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Full text of "Evelyn Harcourt. A novel"

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L [ B RAFLY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY 

Of ILLINOIS 

823 

V;2 



EVELYN HARCOURT, 



A NOVEL. 



BY 



THE AUTHOR OF "TEMPTATION, OR, A WIFE S PERIL: 
"THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES," ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. IL 



LONDON: 

HENRY COLBUllN, PUBLISHER, 

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1847. 



F. Shcberl, Jun., Piiater to II. K.H. Prince Albeit, Kui.eit Strtet. 






EVELYN HARCOURT. 



CHAPTER XVII. 



Vous m'offrez vainement la supreme grandeur, 
^ Ce n'est pas a ce prix qu'on obtiendra mon coeur. 

'> CORNEILLE. 

Souffrez que la raison remette vos esprits 
Prenez un bon conseil . . 

Ibid. 

She would not choose but gaze — a fascination 
Dwelt in that moon, and sky, and clouds. 

Shelley. 



She sings so wild and well. 

The Corsair. 



On a sofa, in a small boudoir of the Ca- 
pella Vecchia at Naples, commanding an 
uninterrupted view of that glorious bay, was 
stretched the emaciated form of poor Lady 
Truro, who looked as if her days on earth 

VOL. II. B 



2 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

were numbered. Her face, still beautiful in 
form and features, was almost totally colour- 
less — her eyes were dim, and somewhat 
sunken — and her small, white hands were 
almost transparent. Her sofa had been 
wheeled close to the open window, that she 
might look out upon the exquisite view be- 
neath ; and as the soft wind, every now and 
then, slightly raised the curls of her fair hair, 
she turned more towards it, as though to 
court its reviving breezes. 

Beside her was one who looked like a true 
child of that sunny clime — the beautiful 
Evelyn, whose singular loveliness had become, 
if possible, more striking, more perfect, since 
last we parted from her. Perhaps it might 
be that her countenance had assumed a higher 
tone, a more reflective expression, than had 
formerly characterized it, for Evelyn had suf- 
fered — suffered bitterly during the last few 
months. Life had been to her a constant 
effort of endurance. The thought of Arthur 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 3 

Sherborne had never been banished from her 
mind — still his was the one dear imaofe con- 
stantlj before it — the one undying recollec- 
tion that she sought not, wished not, to for- 
get. Still she recalled, with the same vividness 
as of yore, his conversation, his looks — the 
very tones of his voice ; and still, with a fond 
yet sad delight she repeated to herself again 
and again every little proof of regard, every 
little word of kindness or interest, he had ever 
addressed to her. Yet he could not be hers ! 
his heart, she believed, had long been ano- 
ther's ! 

The news of Mrs. Bridge's death had 
grieved her most bitterly. It was to her 
like the loss of a mother, for she had known 
no other ; and she had experienced more than 
the ordinary love and tenderness of one from 
the good old lady. The awful suddenness of 
her end too, coming, as it did, without the 
slightest previous preparation, the slightest 
warning, made it to Evelyn's mind peculiarly 

B 2 



4 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

dreadful and hard to bear ; and it was long, 
very long before she could at all recover from 
the shock this sad event had occasioned. And 
how she envied Helen, who had been with her 
to the last — the last privileged person to 
whom she had spoken — the last one able to 
perform for her a trifling service in this 
world ! Now, she was far beyond the reach 
of all human assistance ! — she would never 
need help again !...What would not Evelyn 
give now, but to have seen her once more 
before she died — to have felt her venerable 
hand resting upon her head, as in days gone 
by — to have received her wonted blessing ! . . 
Alas ! it was all over now ! . . . 

Like most persons who have suddenly lost 
a being they dearly cherish, Evelyn was con- 
tinually reproaching herself with errors she 
had committed towards the dear old lady who 
was gone ; errors, which her grief and re- 
morse tended greatly to exaggerate in her 
mind. How often had she not distressed her 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 5 

gentle spirit by her petulance, or weaned it 
by the wild excess of her youthful spirits ! 
— how often, forgetting the tenderness and 
gratitude she owed to one so kind and so 
indulgent, had she not left to Helen the 
entertainment of her long evenings, whilst 
she pursued some solitary occupation which 
chanced at the time to be more agreeable to 
herself! How often, when her arm might 
have assisted the feeble step, her voice cheered 
the lonely walk, had she not too willingly 
yielded such offices to Helen — the ever-ready, 
ever unselfish Helen — instead of makinor an 
effort to overcome her own listless indolence ! 
How often .... alas ! these were sad remem- 
brances, and they would rise up in judgment 
against her now ! 

Oh ! what can exceed the bitterness of 
self-reproach for faults committed to those 
who are gone... ! 

Yet still the calm, kind, venerable face 
seemed to look gently down upon her, as it 



6 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

had ever done, with those benignant eyes; 
and in her dreams she sometimes saw her, 
watching and blessing her as of yore. 

The first thing that had afforded a ray of 
comfort to the poor girl, after this heavy mis- 
fortune, had been the news of Helen's engage- 
ment. This was indeed a blessing, in every 
w^ay, and, most of all, she rejoiced for Helen's 
sake. With a heart softened by sorrow, and 
full of remorse and bitter self-upbraiding, did 
she write to her early friend ; and her letter 
was touching in its deep contrition for the 
past, and in its tender interest and hope for 
the future ! But though this intelligence 
awakened in her the most heartfelt gratitude 
for the sake of that friend, for herself, and as 
regarded her own future, it affected her but 
little. That Arthur Sherborne had cared for 
Helen, though his love were unreturned, she 
had long been far too well convinced to doubt 
for a moment now ; and one thing was still 
as certain as ever — that he did not care for 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 7 

her I... The world was, therefore, still a blank, 
as heretofore ! . . . 

And as this memorable winter had ad- 
vanced, it had brought with it other sources 
of anguish and anxiety for her, besides those 
to which we have already alluded ; one, in 
particular, in the failing health of Lady Truro, 
who, she soon felt convinced, would not ulti- 
mately recover. At first, and during the 
early part of the winter indeed, she had ap- 
peared to rally somewhat, but the improve- 
ment had been only temporary ; and, since 
the arrival of the Duke of Shetland some 
time before, she had been growing every day 
visibly worse. 

Evelyn was more devotedly attached to her 
than ever. The constant anxiety and watch- 
ing of many months had inexpressibly en- 
deared her to her, and the fear of losing had 
rendered her doubly precious. Occasionally, 
too — though rarely (for one of Evelyn's pecu- 
liar characteristics was her utter forgetfulness 



8 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of self, where her love for others was con- 
cerned), a thought, a passing anxiety, about 
her own future would cross her mind, and 
leave a painful sense of dreariness and isola- 
tion behind it. If her cousin should have 
become worse — if she should die — where, 
henceforward, should she find a home ? Helen 
would, ere long, be removed from her native 
land, to be absent perhaps for years ; and how 
desolate would Oriel be without any of the 
old familiar faces that used to endear it ! It 
was true, she could follow her friends across 
the Atlantic, and take up her abode with 
them, wherever they might be ; but what an 
undertaking for her ! — at her age, too ! The 
idea of a long and solitary voyage — of new 
and strange scenes — of Canada, in short — 
was singularly distressing to her ; and from 
such prospects she always endeavoured to 
turn away. After all, it mattered little what 
became of her in such a case as the loss of her 
cousin. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. B 

And now, as she gazed upon the emaciated 
form and pallid features of that cousin, her 
heart sank with a melancholy foreboding, as 
she thought within herself how soon she 
might behold that darling face no more ! 

" Do you feel worse to-day ?" inquired she, 
tenderly pressing Lady Truro's emaciated 
hand within her own. 

" On the contrary, my love ! I think I am 
decidedly better," returned Lady Truro. 
"This sweet air seems to revive me. But, 
Evelyn, I am unhappy about you. You never 
go out, nor take any exercise. You are 
scarcely an instant away from my side. You 
will end by making yourself ill, my dear." 

''I have no wish to go. I am never so 
happy as when I am with you. I have no 
interest in any one else — and if you only 
knew how society bores me...." 

Lady Truro shook her head. 

** It grieves me to hear you say so, Evelyn. 
You must struggle against that feeling, 

B 5 



lO EVELYN HARCOURT. 

my love; you must, indeed, for it is not 
for your happiness to yield to it. Do you 
imagine that you are the first girl who ever 
loved a man she could not marry? — who 
ever...." 

Lady Truro stopped short, and sighed. 

" Believe me, you will one day wonder at 
yourself for all you are now feeling ; you will 
thank my memory, if my entreaties should 
prevail, for having...." 

" Do not go on, Barberina," said Evelyn, 
with great emotion. '' I cannot bear it — in- 
deed I cannot !" 

** Nay, Evelyn, I must speak what is in my 
mind. I have long intended to do so more 
seriously than I have ever done yet, and why 
not now, when I feel somewhat stronger — 
more equal to the effort than usual? I know 
not, indeed, how long my strength may hold 
out. In short, my love, you must listen to 
me calmly, if you can, whilst I strive to point 
out to you the folly of your present determi- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1 

nation — the certainty of your regretting it in 
the end." 

" I never can regret it," replied Evelyn, in 
a low voice. 

" You will, Evelyn, you must. These high- 
flown and romantic feelings will not last, be- 
lieve me. You are young now — beautiful — 
courted, with every one at your feet. You 
have opportunities, too, arising from your 
present position, which you may not always 
command, which you would lose in losing me ; 
you yourself admit it : yet how soon may 
we not be separated ? — who can tell ? But I 
will not speak of myself — of my own state — 
for I know it grieves you, love : I am thinking 
now of you alone. Do you wish to marry a 
yankee, Evelyn ? — to settle in America ?" 

" I wish to marry no one," replied Evelyn, 
still without raising her head, which had sunk 
down on the cushion of Lady Truro's sofa : 
" I care not what becomes of me after... when 
I am no longer with you." 



12 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

'' Foolish child ! you will care when it is 
too late — when you have learned to look at 
things with soberer eyes. But even if you 
are utterly regardless of yourself, have you 
no care for me — for my feelings ?" 

" Oh, Barberina ! how can you ask such a 
question !" 

" Is it a strange one, when the first boon 
that I ever asked of you — the only one I ever 
can ask — is refused me ?" 

" One that affects my happiness for life — 
for ever !" 

** It does, indeed ; for it would ensure it. 
Evelyn ! Evelyn ! you talk of loving me, yet 
you have no confidence in my judgment, my 
regard — no real affection for me !" 

" You break my heart by such cruel words!" 
cried Evelyn, in a faltering voice. " Ask 
anything of me — any sacrifice but this. You 
know I would lay down my life for yours.... I 
would gladly...." 

" You cannot save my life, Evelyn, but you 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 13 

may make the remainder of it easy — you may 
perhaps save that of my unborn child ! for if 
I should continue to undergo the agony, the 
anxiety of mind I have done lately, I may 
not live to give it birth." 

Evelyn threw herself on her knees, and 
burst into a flood of tears. 

" If you knew how my soul revolts from 
it !" sobbed she, at length, " and with my 
heart so engrossed by another,..." 

" And that other caring not for you — that 
other, who, less than a year ago, utterly re- 
gardless of you, proposed to your friend. Miss 
Eridfife 



I" 



" I do not know it. I suspected her wrong- 
fully then, and I may have been wrong in 
supposing he felt anything more towards her 
than...." 

"' No one else entertains a doubt of it, my 
love ; nor would you, if you were not blinded 
by — what shall I say ? — the wildest passion, 
the most insane hope...." 



14 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" I have no hope !" exclaimed Evelyn, 
mournfully — " none, except not to forget 
him !" 

" And he thinks not of you. You are no 
more to him than his cousin, Lady Annette 
— ^less, perhaps." 

Evelyn hid her face, and wept again. She 
could not deny the truth of these words, 
bitter and humiliating as they were. 

" And here you have one at your feet, 
whose alliance all England covets — rich, high- 
born, handsome, and withal devoted to you — 
yet you would refuse him for the sake of a 
visionary — a poet — who never will marry at 
all, if report speaks true, or who at least is 
far more occupied at present in the compo- 
sition of his works, than in seeking your 
favour, or that of any other woman. And you 
refuse to soothe my last days ; for I feel — ^yes, 
Evelyn, I must tell you, sadly as it will grieve 
you — that I feel I cannot long survive the birth 
of my child — if, indeed, 1 should live to give it 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 15 

birth. And I have Truro's solemn promise — 
his oath, indeed — that once those frightful 
debts settled, he will never be induced to play 
again. And the Duke has promised that if 
you will but consent — if you will but be his 
— he will advance any sum — in short, he will 
enable him to settle them immediately.. .Ah! 
Evelyn ! you talk of making any sacrifice for 
me, yet you refuse this !" 

" Do not urge me further !" cried Evelyn, 
passionately. " Have pity on me ! — have 
mercy ! Do not drive me to my own destruc- 
tion — my own despair ! You abuse your 
power over me !" 

" I have done," replied Lady Truro, faintly. 
" I will never ui'ge you more. This is the 
last time I will speak on this most painful 
subject. But oh, Evelyn ! if not for mi/ sake, 
— if not to give me peace, and ease my dying 
moments — for your own sake, at least, think 
wisely before it be too late ! Do not sacrifice 
your own prospects — do not give up what is 



16 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

real, for what is worse than visionary ! Re- 
member 7ne, and my entreaties...." 

Lady Truro's face became of a death-like 
hue, and Evelyn saw that one of the attacks 
of fainting — now becoming, from her state of 
extreme weakness, both frequent and alarm- 
ing — was coming on. 

" Oh, Barber ina, dearest Barberina, listen 
to me !" she cried, as she flung herself on her 
knees beside the sofa, and, seizing her hand, 
pressed it fervently to her lips. " For your 
sake, I will do all — make any sacrifice — ^yes, 
even that fearful one!. ...Can you hear me, 
dearest — can you hear me promise to do all 
that you would have me — even to be his, if 
that can ease you, or spare your precious 
life !" 

Lady Truro bent her head in token of 
assent, and strove to press the hand that held 
hers ; but she could not reply. The previous 
exertion, the excitement, had been too much 
for her — a faintness, as though of death, came 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 17 

over her, and in a few moments she was 
totally insensible. 

It was long before the usual restoratives 
produced any visible effect ; and the doctor, 
who was hastily summoned, was seriously 
alarmed at her extreme debility. He thought 
her state altoo:ether more critical than it had 
yet been, and insisted on the absolute neces- 
sity of the most perfect repose, both mental 
and bodily. The least agitation, the least 
painful excitement, might — probably would 
— cost her her life! As Evelyn listened to 
his words, the tears flowing down her cheeks, 
she internally resolved that never again would 
she, by one unwilling or reproachful expres- 
sion, agitate or distress that anxious spirit. 
No ; for one who had done so much for her, 
she might well sacrifice herself — and she 
would do so ! There was something sublime 
in such a sacrifice ! 

And oh ! if it should be the means of pro- 
longing that precious life, now hanging, as it 



18 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

were, on a mere thread ! There would be 
something worth living for, whilst Barberina 
lived ! 

From that hour, Evelyn became an altered 
being. A kind of habitual melancholy came 
over her, deeper than anything she had yet 
experienced — for it was the destruction of all 
hope. Till now, she had cherished, with a 
passionate fondness, the remembrance of him 
she loved ; but now, she must give up even 
that consolation. Henceforth, she must think 
of him no more ; for she had resolved — she 
had consented — to become the wife of another ! 

The Duke was soon informed, by Lord 
Truro, of the favourable change that had 
taken place in her intentions. Hitherto, she 
had given him not the slightest reason to 
hope ; but still he had lingered on at Naples, 
induced to do so by the assurances of both 
Lord and Lady Truro, that she would be 
brought to reason at last — and that, if he 
would but have patience, all would end well. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 19 

The Duke was really exceedingly in love — 
but, what was still more to the purpose, his 
vanity was piqued at Evelyn's utter indiffer- 
ence, so unlike anything he had ever met with 
before, or had a right to expect — and his 
pride was now engaged in the pursuit of her. 
He was determined to succeed ! She should 
be his — even in spite of herself! Haver- 
fordwest had told him that she was not to be 
won ; but Haverfordwest should find that, 
whoever else she might refuse, the Duke of 
Shetland was not to be rejected — by any 
woman breathing ! 

Her manner, indeed, could not be said to 
be flattering; and it was even less so after 
she had accepted him than before. But Lady 
Truro, who, as soon as she was a little better, 
undertook the office of negociator between 
them, assured him that all would be right in 
the end. " Evelyn was an odd girl, who, from 
the very circumstance of her romantic and 
unworldly disposition, required more wooing 



20 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

than others. The advantages of rank and 
wealth, so attractive to most, had with her 
no weight whatever; indeed, they operated 
rather against him than in his favour, so great 
was her fear of being in the smallest degree 
influenced by motives of ambition rather than 
by feelings of love." 

By such plausible reasoning did Lady Truro 
contrive to silence the fears of the Duke, and 
sustain his hopes, whilst she took every oppor- 
tunity of privately imploring Evelyn to assume 
at least an appearance of greater warmth, if 
she would not mar the effect of the whole, 
and renounce her engagement. And, in doing 
this, Lady Truro was not acting solely from 
selfish motives, though her own interest, or 
rather that of her husband, had so much to 
do with the course she was adopting. She 
did really believe that the happiness of Evelyn 
would be secured by this marriage — her pro- 
spects in life utterly destroyed by a rejection 
of it! 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 21 

She had discovered the affair of Lord 
Haverfordwest some time before — and Evelyn 
had been unable to conceal from her either 
her passion for Mr. Sherborne, or the subse- 
quent misery it had produced. Lady Truro 
was convinced that, if this romantic passion 
were not crushed in the bud, it would destroy 
her happiness, and ruin her prospects in life. 
It was an absurd attachment — the conse- 
quence of a high-flown and over-wrought ima- 
gination ; but it was as hopeless as it was 
ridiculous — for Mr. Sherborne would pro- 
bably never marry ; he had not the means, — 
and his inclinations were not supposed to tend 
that way. She sincerely believed, therefore, 
that in bringing about a connexion between 
her young cousin and the Duke of Shetland, 
she was doing the best possible thing for 
Evelyn as well as for herself ; and that, before 
she had been married one twelvemonth, she 
would be of the same opinion too. Her own 
life was most precarious ; indeed, her medical 



2g EVELYN HARCOURT. 

attendants admitted that it was very doubtful 
whether she would survive her confinement. 
If she died, what was to become of Evelyn ? 
It was true, she had English friends at Naples, 
who had offered to take charge of her to 
England, if she should wish to return there; — 
but Evelyn would, no doubt, ultimately de- 
cide on joining old Mr. Eridge and the Percys 
in Canada; and how sad for her, with all 
her beauty and extraordinary talents, to be 
banished to a distant colony, and perhaps 
snapped up by some Canadian settler, or pen- 
niless English captain ! Lady Truro's soul 
revolted from such prospects for the protegee 
of her heart ; for she did love Evelyn after her 
own peculiar fashion, and she had certainly 
the most intense and overwhelming desire to 
see her Duchess of Shetland ! 

But, while her own health gradually im- 
proved, and she unceasingly turned to Evelyn 
with gratitude, as the occasion of this im- 
provement, Evelyn herself was rapidly wasting 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 23 

away even beneath the clear skies of her own 
sunny land. She had no peculiar malady — 
no symptom that could be specified : — it was 
simply the consequences of a mind diseased, 
to which nothinnf could minister, beofinninnf to 
show themselves upon the outward frame. 
She was gentle and uncomplaining ; but her 
spirits were gone ; — her step had lost its elas- 
ticity — she rarely spoke, except when ad- 
dressed ; and would often remain, even in 
society, so deeply sunk in reverie, as to be 
almost unconscious of what was passing 
around her. 

Solitude was now her chief delight. She 
avoided, as much as possible, all intercourse — 
all observation ; and, whenever she could do 
so, she took refuge in her own room, where 
she would sit for hours, singing the most ex- 
quisite ballads, which, with that rare talent 
peculiar to her nation, she composed on the 
moment. But, instead of the wild bursts of 
happy melody, which formerly had gladdened 



24 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

the hearts of the old couple at Oriel, her 
strains were now sad and mournful ; and 
sometimes she would break off suddenly, and 
gaze upon the clear sky with wistful earnest- 
ness. 

Like most persons of a powerful imagina- 
tion, she was superstitious ; and a strange 
and vivid dream, which had lately occurred to 
her, had taken remarkable possession of her 
mind, and, in some measure, accounted for 
the state of morbid melancholy into which she 
had fallen. 

She fancied herself at one of those brilliant 
reunions in London, of which, the year before, 
she had been the brightest ornament ; and, as 
usual, she was surrounded by crowds of ad- 
mirers — crowds who excited no interest — no 
sympathy in her soul. Her thoughts were 
full — her heart was pining for one she could 
not see ! At length, he appeared — the beauti- 
ful — the worshipped — and those brilliant 
halls became suddenly filled with light and 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 25 

melody. He approached — he touched her 
hand — and, oh bliss unutterable ! he whis- 
pered words of love ! He told her that he had 
loved her long — that he knew she loved him 
— but that she never could be his ! Fate had 
separated them in this world, and she must 
wed another ! And then suddenly the light 
and airy strains which had resounded through 
those gorgeous halls, when he approached her, 
changed to a low and mournful air — oh ! how 
mournful ! and he told her that her path in 
life would be one of sorrow, for she should 
sacrifice him — but, by her marriage with 
another, she should save her cousin ! And 
hers should be an early death... And then he 
pointed upwards, with a gesture never to be 
forgotten — and told her to remember him in 
those immortal regions, where they might hope 
to meet again. — And he said, that in his 
heart her memory should not die ! 

She awoke, and found her pillow wet with 
tears. The dream had been so vivid — so dis- 

VOL. II. c 



26 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

tinct — that it seemed to her like complete 
reality; and never after could she forget 
the impression it produced. She had seen 
him — ^his own noble countenance — ^his serene 
and lofty brow. Those deep, untroubled eyes 
had been fixed so glowingly on hers — that low 
voice, for the first time, had whispered love... 
It must be real ! His heart had spoken to hers 
through one of those inexplicable sympathies 
which sometimes appear so strangely to unite 
immortal natures, even on this earth ; though 
by what means, or wherefore, we know not. 

From this hour, Evelyn became a kind of 
visionary — one whose world was in herself. 
Forgetting how naturally such a dream was 
to be accounted for, by the intense pre-occu- 
pation of her mind upon the very subjects to 
which it related, she looked upon the coinci- 
dence as supernatural, and believed that all 
the Arthur of her dream had prophesied would 
really come to pass. From that hour, she 
felt convinced that she should die — she should 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 27 

not survive her union with the Duke. But 
Barberina at least would be saved by the 
sacrifice ; she would be blessed with a child — 
perhaps a son — ever the object of her most 
earnest desires — and her husband's habits of 
gambling would be relinquished... whilst she 
— where should she be ? To what shadowy 
and undiscovered reofions mio^ht she not have 
winged her flight? Under what deathless 
skies might she not have opened a glorious 
vision ! The mighty — the vast unknown 
would be before her — And oh ! in the illimit- 
able fields of space — as incomprehensible as 
that Futurity which we vainly strive to image — 
might she not one day meet Jdm f 

Such were the thous^hts that now con- 
stantly absorbed her mind, filling it with a 
thousand dim and mysterious images, and 
that vague and restless craving to discern the 
Future which is so often observable in those 
to whom some great and withering disap- 
pointment has rendered the Present a blank. 

c2 



28 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

And at this time she fancied herself religious ; 
— mistaking what was in reality the mere dis- 
gust of mortified affections, for aspirations 
towards a purer existence — the distaste of this 
life for the love of Heaven ! With her mind 
full of the most ardent adoration for one who 
was all the world to her, she yet fancied she 
had given up the world ! — 

Strange mistake ! which, however strange, 
is yet continually made — and often, from 
beginning by a deception, ends in becoming a 
reality ; for nothing more frequently than 
disappointed earthly affections leads us to 
throw ourselves upon those that are heavenly. 



Evelyn's engagement to the Duke of Shet- 
land was now become a matter of notoriety at 
Naples. He went nowhere but to the Truros ; 
but, wherever she was seen, whether driving 
with Lady Truro, or walking (which she did 
but rarely) in the Chiaja, he was sure to be by 
her side — the only person now privileged to 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 29 

be so. He seemed to take pleasure in dis- 
playing his devotion to the world, and the 
Truros were only too glad, on all accounts, 
that that devotion should be rendered as no- 
torious as possible. 

Evelyn received his attentions somewhat 
abstractedly, indeed, but no longer ungraci- 
ously ; though there was none of the delight 
that love, or the conscious satisfaction that 
gratified pride might be supposed to produce. 
All — even the most envious English misses — 
agreed that she bore her honours with singular 
meekness, almost with something like indif- 
ference. Little did they imagine how paltry 
seemed such honours in her eyes, nor how 
gladly she would forego them, to share the less 
splendid lot of one far away. 

In her inmost soul, Evelyn despised the 
Duke for his pertinacious pursuit of her. He 
could scarcely, she felt sure, believe she loved 
him, for she had never given him the smallest 
reason to suppose so. He must conclude. 



30 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

therefore, that her acceptance of him pro- 
ceeded from interested motives on her part ; 
and how was it that his pride could endure 
such a conclusion ? It was incomprehensible 
to her . . . She knew not that it was her very 
want of em'pressement — her evident unworld- 
liness — her coyness, and disinclination to be 
won — that excited the hlase feelings of the 
Duke, and chained him to her side. Hitherto, 
he had been courted by all — his least word, 
his slightest mark of attention, had been 
smiled upon, and received with rapture, even 
by the highest born and fairest of the land. 
The cold and reserved had become communi- 
cative with him — the silent animated — the 
thoughtless sentimental. Like flowers expand- 
ing to the rays of the sun, all that he smiled 
upon had instantly opened to his gaze — and 
wherever he had turned his eyes, ready wor- 
shippers had presented themselves ! — 

But here was one — the first he had ever seri- 
ously wooed — the only one he had ever deigned 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 31 

to love — who seemed to prize his attributes no 
more, nor value them more highly than if he 
were one of the countless tribe of Browns, 
or Greens, or Thomsons, who skim, like 
summer flies upon a pool, along the surface 
of society. Her acceptance of him had been 
tardy and reluctant; and, although she did 
now seem to incline a somewhat less unwilling 
ear to his addresses, he yet felt that, until she 
were actually his own, he could never be per- 
fectly secure of her — never be certain that 
she might not escape him yet. 

It was this uncertainty, this dread of losing 
her, that kept his devotion ever on the in- 
crease. And nothing ever equalled that 
devotion ! She felt it — but it occasioned in 
her only a sensation of the deepest melancholy. 
She could pity him, at least, if she could do 
nothing more ; for she knew what it was to 
love, and not to be loved in return. 

It had been settled between them — not 
indeed without great reluctance on the part 



32 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of the Duke, who was unwilling to lose sight 
of his beautiful fiancee even for the shortest 
period — that he should go to England to make 
the necessary arrangements with the lawyers, 
and that their union should then take place 
in the course of the ensuing summer at any 
place in Italy or Switzerland where Lady 
Truro might chance to be ; — for Evelyn was 
firmly resolved not to leave her till after her 
confinement. She had made this a positive 
condition, and the Duke had been, at last, 
obliged to accede to it. 

As the time for his departure drew near, 
however, his unwillingness to leave her in- 
creased. He felt an unaccountable dread of 
something intervening to deprive him of his 
newly-acquired treasure — of something step- 
ping in between him and the only thing he 
had ever really coveted. He tried to comfort 
himself indeed with the reflection that he 
should leave her in safe hands. Lady Truro 
was fast and firmly his friend, and her interest 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 33 

was too much involved in his for him to doubt 
her continuing so. 



" Evelyn, my love, do try and exert your- 
self, for once, and sing something for us to- 
night. — You never compose now — " said Lady 
Truro one evening, when they were all assem- 
bled in the little boudoir, admiring the bril- 
liance and beauty of an Italian moonlight. 

" I cannot !" replied Evelyn with a sigh ; 
" I have lost the power I had." 

" Yet I hear you constantly warbling away 
in your own room ; and Deschamps tells me 
you are for ever singing alone !" 

" That is so different — alone — but not now 
— not now . . " 

"And why not now ?" whispered her lover, 
as he stood leaning enamoured over her. — 
" There is your harp. Will you not, to oblige 
me, my Evelyn? That rare talent, in which they 
say you are so gifted — will it never be exer- 
cised for me, who would prize it above all ? . . " 

c 5 



34 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" It is not one to be commanded, you 
know !" replied Evelyn, with a slight, a very 
slight shade of hauteur in her magnificent 
countenance. 

" Commanded ! No ! but it may be en- 
treated — besought — won at last — may it not ? 
Ah, Evelyn, I shall soon be gone from you — 
I shall hear your sweet voice no more, for a 
time, at least — let me then listen to it whilst 
I may. Give me something to remember this 
evening by, less painful than the recollection 
that I entreated, and you refused !" 

" I know not what to sing," said Evelyn, 
hesitating. " I would, since you desire it, but 
indeed the spirit, the power, is gone from me. 
I feel as if I should break down immediately." 

" Does not such a scene as this inspire 
you ?" cried Lord Truro, stepping out upon 
the balcony, and humming a favourite polka. 

Evelyn glanced at him, and felt further 
than ever from inspiration. 

" Look !" observed Lady Truro in a low 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 35 

voice, " look at that dark cloud near the moon 
— does not it remind you of poor Corinne ?" 

Evelyn gazed at the sky with the prolonged 
and earnest look of one who would fain pene- 
trate its hidden depths. At that moment no 
earthly imagination could picture anything 
more lovely than her countenance. The light 
of the moon shone full upon it, and upon those 
glorious, upturned eyes, in which sparkled 
something too much like tears. 

Lady Truro saw that she was moved, and 
trusted devoutly that her husband might not 
interrupt her reverie, and dissolve the charm. 
There was something in Lord Truro pecu- 
liarly unfriendly to sentiment of any kind. 
The very sound of his voice, the very expres- 
sions habitual to him, were sufficient to recal 
one from the highest flight of fancy to the 
things of this lower world, and perhaps to 
some of the lowest things in it. 

" Poor Corinne !" said Lady Truro. " One 
could fancy it was just on such a night as 
this that she died...." 



36 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

They had lately been reading that beautiful 
story, and Evelyn's mind was full of it. There 
was so much in the history of Corinne with 
which she could sympathize — so many feel- 
ings that resembled her own ! And she be- 
lieved that their fates would not be dissimilar 
— an early death for both.... 

She arose, and, going to her harp, struck a 
few wild and mournful notes; and then, to 
an air of inexpressible beauty, she sang the 
following words : — 

CORESTNE'S LAST SONG AT FLORENCE. 

Alas, my Lyre too long has lain 

Unstrung, forgotten, and alone ! 
And can it breathe a lighter strain, 

Or glad me with its former tone ? 

Ah, no ! — the notes which many an hour 
Of youth have cheered, so light and gay, 

Have now no more the magic power 
To chase my spirit's gloom away. 

Li vain they speak of other days — 
I can but mourn those days are o'er. 

When e'en the favourite, long-loved lays 
That soothed me once, can soothe no more. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 37 

Then life was fresh, and youth is gay, 

And youthful sorrows quickly fly ; 
'Twas meet that at the gladsome lay 

The dreams of care should hasten by. 

But now, when every hope is fled, 

"WTien slow disease, unheeded love, 
And hastening death, have o'er me shed 

A gloom no power can e'er remove, 

'Tis fit my Lyre, my only friend, 
Last, loved companion of this hour, 

Should mourn the grief that cannot end, 
Since notes of joy have lost their power. 

Breathe then, oh sweetest Lyre, a strain 
E'en still more solemn, sad, and slow ! 

And let me weep, whilst once again 
Thy mournful numbers wildly flow. 

Yes, I will wake them whilst I may ! 

Soon shall these eyelids cease to weep ; 
Hushed too thy sound, thy tuneful lay — 

In silence soon we both shall sleep ! 

But if, perchance, when I am gone 

Some stranger-hand should strive to wake 

The tones that flowed for me alone, 

Thy chords, imanswering. Lyre, would break ! 

Emblem of me, then ! — Long to one 
This constant heart responsive spoke ; 

That loved-one gone, it lost its tone — 
Silent to others' touch — it broke ! 



38 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Nothing could exceed the beauty of the 
air which accompanied these words; but it 
was so inexpressibly mournful, that Lady 
Truro could hardly restrain her tears. Once 
or twice, too, Evelyn's voice trembled as she 
sang; and, as she glanced up at the cloud 
which now partly obscured the moon, her 
cousin perceived that her eyes too were full 
of tears. Never did Lady Truro forget the 
melancholy expression of her face at that 
moment — never had its beauty appeared to 
her so extraordinary, so irresistible ! 

It was difficult to say which was most 
exquisite — the melodious strains of that young, 
clear voice, or the form and rapt counte- 
nance of the singer ; and when, at length, the 
last words died away on her lips, and she 
ceased, no one ventured to interrupt the si- 
lence that followed — each feared lest a single 
word should painfully disturb the emotions 
which had so strangely identified her with 
her subject. 



EVELYN HARCOUET. 39 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Enfin je me vols libre, et je puis sans contrainte 
De mes vives douleurs te faire voir I'atteinte, 
Je puis donner passage a mes tristes soupirs, 
Je puis t'ouvrix mon ame et tous mes deplaisirs. 

CORNEILLE. 

. . . Now he comes — brighter than even he 
E'er beamed before . . . 

... he comes, as if to haunt 
Thy soul with dreams of lost delight. 

Lalla Rookh. 

In a few days the Duke and Lord Truro 
departed for England, with the intention of 
joining Lady Truro in a couple of months in 
Switzerland. Evelyn felt singularly relieved 
when her lover was gone. She was free, at 
least for a time, to abandon herself to the 
dejection that weighed upon her like an in- 
cubus. W;ien he was there, she must endea- 
vour to exert ; she must affect a cheerfulness 



40 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

she was far from feeling, if, as Lady Truro 
would frequently say, she were sincere in her 
intention of fulfilling her engagement;... but 
now!. ..she had a right to grieve. Her last 
months of freedom should, at least, be her 
own ! 

*' Leave me, leave me, dear Barberina — 
let me weep ! '* would she say, when Lady 
Truro surprised her in tears, and chided her 
for such continual yielding to her morbid me- 
lancholy. " Do not begrudge me this short 
breathing time. Alas, it will too soon be 
over !" 

" Oh, Evelyn I how can you quarrel as 
you do with your lot? — one so enviable, so 
blessed ! What can you wish for that you 
will not possess ?" 

And Evelyn would sigh, and make no an- 
swer ; but her thoughts would wander back 
to past days, and to hopes, of which she might 
no longer dream. 

Her only comfort at this time was the 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 41 

striking improvement in her cousin's health — 
an improvement which that cousin was always 
gratefully attributing to her. Lady Truro 
was happy about her — happy in the idea of 
her being so advantageously settled ; and, 
what was more, she was at ease about her 
own husband, for she had confidence in his 
promise ; and the solemn compact between 
herself and the Duke, of which Evelyn was 
to be in a manner the price, would, she 
trusted, prevent the utter ruin of that hus- 
band. Her child might yet see the light; 
perhaps, too, she might even live to cherish 
it ! She had begun to hope so. 

Evelyn was continually listening to such 
hopes ; and her generous and enthusiastic na- 
ture rejoiced at the good she had been able 
to effect, in one instance at least, even though 
at the sacrifice of her own peace. 

Her letters to Helen at this time were full 
of melancholy forebodings, but gentle and 
disinterested tenderness. " I feel grateful," 



42 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

she would say, " for your happiness, my 
Helen, whatever my own lot may be. It is 
much to think that you are beloved by him 
to whom you have given your heart ; and, 
oh, what a heaven upon earth must be yours 
now ! Does not it almost make this life too 
precious ? 

" Sometimes I long that I could take my 
leave of earth in this sweet spot, my mother's 
sunny birthplace ; but it may not be ! — Al- 
though I certainly think my health far from 
good, yet life wears away with me but slowly, 
and I have many a weary mouth, perhaps 
even year, before me yet. Is it not strange 
that I should speak so — I, who used to be the 
gay and joyous thing you remember? But I 
feel now as if I had another heart and mind 
from those of old. From the day that I first 
saw liim, I became an altered being ! — 

" Oh, Helen, I may still speak of him to you ! 
Soon even that will be no longer right ! — 

" Barberina tells me that the Duke knows — 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 43 

knows my feelings ; that she has told him all... 
Is it not wonderful then that he still persists, 
still obstinately pursues me? — 

" His love must be irresistible indeed ; but, 
oh, how unlike what mine would be in his 
place ! — 

" Well, since I have sold myself to him, 
I will be true to him ; and, as far as in 
me lies, I will repay his love with gratitude, 
and devotion of conduct, at least, if not of 
heart. — 

" Oh, how I long to see you once more ! — 
to know your Frederic — to hear you speak 
my pardon for my injustice — n^ worse than 
cruel suspicions of you formerly !... Helen, to 
me you are an incomprehensible being — how 
could you resist him f — for tell me not that 
he did not love you ! It is known to all — no 
one doubts it. He gave his noble heart to 
you, and you refused him ! Was it for mi/ 
sake — out of pity to me ? Alas ! . . . . 

" We shall leave Naples almost immediately. 



44 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

At another time I should grieve, for there are 
some here whom I love ; and this place is en- 
deared to me by many recollections of our 
dear parents — especially her who is gone — 
and you, my Helen ; — but now I care little 
where I go ; all places will soon be alike to me ! 

" I have thought much of you all lately ; 
and the only thing about which I feel very 
anxious is to hear of your safe arrival in 
Canada. I once thought I should have joined 
you there, but that is over now.... And, whilst 
I see Barberina improving as I do, I cannot 
wish that I had decided differently...." 

" Think of me, my own dear Helen, for I 
am weary of this world ..." 



They removed to Rome for some days, but 
the weather was becoming too hot to allow of 
their remaining there long. Evelyn spent all 
the time she could spare from her cousin in 
St. Peter's Church. There was something in 
the vastness and solemnity of that unrivalled 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 45 

edifice that suited well with the melancholy 
of her mind at this period ; and she was never 
weary of wandering about in its precincts, and 
gazing at the beautiful pictures which adorn 
it — durable as its own time-defying walls. 

One evening, when she was just leaving it 
with Deschamps, she suddenly thought she 
perceived, at a little distance, a form that 
caused her heart to beat with unutterable 
emotion. It bore a strange resemblance to 
one whom she had believed to be far distant ; 
and unconsciously she paused, fearful of ad- 
vancing, lest she should find the illusion dis- 
pelled. But, in another moment, the figure 
approached ; and she then perceived that it 
was indeed — Arthur Sherborne. Yes, it was 
himself ! — thus unexpectedly they met again ! 

She turned deadly pale — she felt as though 
she could scarcely breathe ; there was a flut- 
tering at her heart which was almost beyond 
her powers of endurance — for worlds, in that 
first moment, she could not have spoken. 



46 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

She felt almost incapable of analyzing her 
own sensations ; yet still she was conscious of 
one overpowering emotion — the most insane 
joy at beholding him again — him, whom she 
had cherished in her inmost heart from the 
moment they had parted ! — 

At first, he scarcely recognised her ; for 
her features were somewhat concealed by her 
veil, and the light was dim ; but something 
in her air and figure arrested his attention, 
and her sudden pause on beholding him con- 
vinced him it was her. His manner was full 
of warmth and eagerness, as he advanced to 
meet her, and took the hand she almost un- 
consciously held out. She scarcely knew 
what followed, nor whether the answers she 
gave to his rapid questions were intelligible 
or not. She only felt that he was intently 
regarding her, and that he must be perceiving 
her extraordinary emotion. 

But their parting ! — ah ! that she remem- 
bered, for her hand once more rested in his — 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 47 

and oh ! how his gentle pressure penetrated 
to every fibre of her frame ! She reached 
home in a fever of excitement that no words 
can describe. But then came the reaction — 
the dreadful consciousness of her engagement 
— of the tie from which she could not unbind 
herself. She was no longer free. He was 
there, but she might no longer watch for his 
smile as heretofore — no longer seek for some 
hidden proof of interest and regard in every 
word he uttered — no longer ponder over 
every look, every tone of his, as in days gone 
by. She was another's now — and it was 
sinful even to cherish his recollection. Why 
had he come to make her struggle harder in 
these last moments ? Joy ! — there was no joy 
in seeing him ! At first, she might have felt 
there was; — but now.. .it was all misery and 
black despair ! — 

The whole of that day and the next she 
was in a state of wretchedness not to be de- 
scribed. She could not remain in one place ; 



48 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

she started at every sound she heard ; — each 
time the door opened, her heart beat so vio- 
lently as almost to occasion a sense of suffo- 
cation. She was no longer the pale, melan- 
choly, listless creature she had been of late — 
she was all excitement and nervous agitation 
— she was altogether unlike herself. Lady 
Truro perceived the change, but she little 
suspected its cause. It was soon, however, 
explained. 

They were sitting together the next day — 
Evelyn reading to her whilst she netted, when 
the door opened, and Mr. Sherborne was sud- 
denly announced ! The effect upon both was 
electrical. Evelyn's colour mounted to her 
very temples, and then as rapidly disappeared, 
leaving her face of an ashy paleness ; whilst 
Lady Truro's start of surprise and look of 
evident and great annoyance could not fail to 
attract attention. She soon, however, re- 
covered her self-possession ; but her manner 
of greeting Mr. Sherborne was so cold, so 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 49 

changed from what it had formerly been, that 
it cut Evelyn to the heart ; — and, in the in 
dignation she felt at a reception so unmerited, 
and which must seem so unaccountable to 
him, she rose, and extended her hand with 
far more warmth than at another time she 
would have ventured to do. He took it 
eagerly, and thanked her by a look which 
covered her with confusion; whilst she sat 
down amidst a tumult of emotions, in which 
joy — joy at feeling that he was there, before 
her — was still uppermost. 

Some conversation followed — cold and con- 
strained — on the part of Lady Truro, but on 
his nearly, if not quite, as unembarrassed as 
usual ; for he was not one to be put out of 
countenance by the coldness or caprice of a 
fine lady ; and there was a quiet dignity in 
his manner which had at all times commanded 
Lady Truro's respect, and perhaps her admi- 
ration also. 

Evelyn was for some time silent, but it was 

VOL. II. D 



50 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

in order the better to hear him. There she 
sat, drinking in the tones of his beloved voice, 
and longing desperately that such happiness 
could last for ever. At length, he turned to 
her. 

" What is become of your friend Miss 
Eridge ?" inquired he. 

Evelyn shuddered at the question ; it re- 
called such bitter feelings. Miss Eridge was 
then still uppermost in his thoughts — he still 
cherished her recollection above all others! 

" Helen is married," she replied, in a cold, 
low voice. 

" Married ! you do not say so ! I never 
heard of it, nor saw it in the papers ! May 
I ask to whom ?" 

" To Captain Percy, of the — th ; a son of 
Mr. Horace Sneyd Percy, whom you may per- 
haps have met in London." 

*' Frederic Percy! — indeed! I used to 
know him, and I liked him particularly. Well, 
he is a lucky fellow. His wife is one of the 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 51 

nicest people I ever met. He is most for- 
tunate." 

Evelyn's breath came quick, but she made 
no answer. Lady Truro was quietly but in- 
tently observing them. 

Nothing could be better ! He was playing 
into her hands, and furnishing her with wea- 
pons against himself. 

There was a slight pause, at the end of 
which Lady Truro said, in the blandest of all 
possible tones — 

" Evelyn, dear, do oblige me by getting my 
purse out of the writing-case in my room. I 
want to compare the number of rows I have 
netted here with it. I cannot help thinking 
I must have done enough. There are my 
keys ; — you will find it the first thing, love." 

Evelyn was, of course, quite conscious of 
the object of this manoeuvre ; and her spirit 
rose indignantly at the artifice — but there 
was no alternative ; she could not refuse such 
a request. 

D 2 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY Of i^^U.,S 



52 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

She rose reluctantly; but, as she passed 
Mr. Sherborne, she could not resist stealing 
one timid glance at him. Their eyes met — 
and there was something in his so kind, so 
gentle, that she felt comforted. There was 
an expression, too, which seemed to imply 
that he saw through Lady Truro's manoeuvre 
also. Neither spoke; but both felt at 
that moment that their thoughts were in 
unison. 

To rush upstairs to Lady Truro's room was 
the work of an instant ; but, alas ! the very 
anxiety of Evelyn to do her errand quickly 
defeated her own object. Lady Truro had 
well chosen her commission. The right key 
was not at first to be found ; and when found, 
it was almost impossible to turn it in the 
lock. Then the purse seemed to have been 
hid in the remotest corner of the writing- 
case ; and it was many minutes before it 
could be discovered. It was at last found, 
however, and Evelyn hurried down again ; 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 53 

but, alas ! to find, as she had anticipated, 
Mr. Sherborne gone. 

" There is your purse," cried she, flinging 
it down beside her cousin. " Do not suppose 
that I did not see through your intention in 
sending me for it ; — but I will not be made a 
child of any longer ! I am not a slave 2/et, at 
all events, and I will not be treated like one 
till I am so in good earnest !" 

Her cousin looked at her quietly, and with- 
out any appearance of anger. 

" Evelyn, you have met Mr. Sherborne be- 
fore — you knew of his being in Rome. . ." 

"And if I did, what then?" 

** You never told me of it. . . " 

" And why should I ?" 

"Evelyn, Evelyn, is this kind to me? — 
is it honourable to the Duke ? You have 
yielded to my entreaties, and laid me under 
an eternal obligation. You have consented 
to be his — yet you foster and encourage a 
mad predilection for another — not even re- 



54 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

turned by that other... It is unworthy of you 
— it grieves me..." 

" What do you complain of ?" returned 
Evelyn, pettishly. " Could I avoid meeting 
him ? Did / bring him to Rome ? — did I 
invite him to call here ?" 

" No ; but you betrayed a feeling of satis- 
faction when he did call that was far from 
fitting under your circumstances. I watched 
your countenance when he entered..." 

"I could not do less than show some 
warmth when you received him as you did. 
What has he done to you, that you should 
greet him with such coldness — such for- 
mality ?" 

" Knowing what I do, how could I receive 
him differently ? His visits at this time, and 
under your circumstances, are positively im- 
proper. But let us say no more about it, 
Evelyn. Do not let us quarrel about Mr. 
Sherborne ; he will call here no more." 

Evelyn started. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 55 

" Why, why do you say so ?" inquired she, 
with unconscious eagerness. 

" Of course, I told him of your engage- 
ment, of which he had heard only an inde- 
finite report ; and — and he is going away 
himself immediately." 

" You told him ! — and.... oh ! Barberina ! 
what — what did he say ?" 

Lady Truro slightly sneered. 

" My dear, you always seem to imagine he 
cares for you. I may be supposed to have 
some experience in such matters, perhaps ; 
and I own I never could see the slightest symp- 
tom of it ; but, if I had any doubt on the 
subject before, I should, at all events, have 
been convinced to-day. Anything more 
strikino^ than the utter indifference with which 
he received the news of your engagement I 
never saw. He said he had always expected 
it would turn out so." 

"And was that all?" 

" Indeed it was, as far as I can remember. 



56 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

No, by the bv, he did just beg I would offer 
you his congratulations on such a desirable 
event ; and then he began talking again about 
Mrs. Percy. He seemed far more taken up 
with he?' marriage and her husband's singular 
good fortune than with you or your lover's ! 
There was some real feeling in that quarter, I 
imagine ..." 

Evelyn turned away. No doubt, Lady 
Truro was incapable of understanding the in- 
tense bitterness that filled her heart at that 
moment. 

" Yes, he cared for her ! — Of course !" 
replied she, in a low, harsh voice, which she 
fancied was one of utter indifference. " He 
still does, evidently ..." 

Lady Truro saw that the aim had taken 
effect, and had the tact to say no more. She 
was a person of very great tact, was Lady 
Truro. 

In two days more they quitted Rome. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 57 



CHAPTER XIX. 

He lived — he breathed — he moved — he felt — 
His trance was gone — his keen eye shone 
With thoughts that long in darkness dwelt, 
With thoughts that burn — in rays that melt. 

Bride of Ahydos. 

They looked up at the sky, whose floating glow 
Spread like a rosy ocean, vast and bright — 
They heard the waves splash, and the wind so low. 
And saw each other's dark eyes darting light 
Into each other — and beholding this. 
Their lips drew near, and clung into a kiss. 

Lord Byron. 



It was on the shores of the lovely Lake of 
Como that Arthur Sherborne and Evelyn met 
ao-ain. Their meetinor was as accidental this 
time as it had been the last. He had been 
spending some days in that romantic region, 
and Lady Truro and she had arrived there 
the previous afternoon, the former having re- 

D 5 



58 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

solved on there awaiting the arrival of her 
husband and the Duke, who were to join them 
in about a month. 

Evelyn was wandering slowly along the 
margin of the lake, accompanied by Des- 
champs, who usually attended her in her 
rambles, when she found herself suddenly 
accosted by him from whom her thoughts 
were scarcely ever absent. The surprise was 
overwhelming, and her agitation at first so 
evident, that even Arthur Sherborne could 
hardly fail to be struck by it, though he cer- 
tainly very little suspected the cause. He 
joined her, however, and continued to walk 
with her, till she had gradually recovered 
something like composure. 

At length, the maid, 'whose sagacity had 
long ago led her to the discovery of Evelyn's 
feelings, and who suspected the present meet- 
ing to be less accidental than it really was, 
quitted them, saying that she would return 
aofain for Mademoiselle as soon as she had 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 59 

ascertained that '^Madame la Marquise n'avoit 
besoin de rien.''^ 

They were no sooner alone, than Arthur 
Sherborne, turning to the trembling and agi- 
tated girl, whose hand now rested on his arm, 
began to allude to the change that had taken 
place in her prospects since they parted in 
London. 

" And so it is really true that you are 
going to be married — and to the Duke of 
Shetland?" 

There was something of sadness and un- 
usual interest in his tone, which touched 
Evelyn sensibly, and struck her as totally un- 
like the indifference which Lady Truro had 
represented him to have manifested respecting 
her engagement at Rome. Her eyes filled 
with tears, and for a moment she was unable 
to reply ; but at length she commanded her- 
self to answer, though it was with a faltering 
voice, that the report was a true one. 

There was a pause of a few moments. 



60 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Many and various were the thoughts then 
passing through the minds of each. 

" Yours will be a brilliant lot, as regards 
this world's honours, Miss Harcourt," said he, 
at length, in a low voice, and, as she thought, 
still a melancholy one : " may it be a happy 
one ! Forgive my speaking in my old sober 
strain. It must seem strange to you; but 
you once condescended to treat me with some- 
thing more of confidence than I flatter myself 
you bestowed on all who hovered around you, 
though many were so much more brilliant, 
and all more gay than myself ; and you have 
excited in me an interest, which, if it be pre- 
sumptuous, you, at least, should view with 
indulgence, since you yourself were the occa- 
sion of it. I would ask for you Heaven's 
choicest blessings — that your life may know 
but few of the weary, heart-corroding sorrows 
that darken the fate of most, or only such as 
may be necessary to fit you for another and a 
happier existence." 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 61 

" Oh, do not speak so ! " cried Evelyn, 
scarcely conscious what she was saying ; " I 
cannot bear it ! You break my heart !" 

He gazed at her in astonishment. Gra- 
dually, something of the truth flashed across 
him. 

** Will you treat me as a friend once more f " 
said he, gently, almost tenderly. " You yet 
may ; and never will I abuse your confidence. 
Tell me what I can have said to distress you 
thus?".... 

" Ask me nothing !" cried she, wildly. '* I 
can tell you nothing!. ...nothing. But, oh! 
there is not in this whole world a more mise- 
rable wretch than myself !".... 

"Calm yourself," said he, soothingly. " Do 
not give way to such agitation. Can it be 
that this marriage is repugnant to your feel- 
ings? — that you have been advised — persuaded 
into it ? Ah ! if so, pause before it be too 
late !" 

She answered not : her heart seemed to be 



62 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

dying within her. She covered her face with 
her hands, and wept passionately; whilst 
Arthur Sherborne watched her in silence, and 
his spirit darkened at the sight of her anguish. 

*' God help me !" cried she, at length, rather 
as though giving way to her own thoughts than 
addressing him, " I am indeed utterly mise- 
rable — there is no hope for me in this world. 
I have given my word — yes ! — and I cannot 
retract. Can I — ought I to break my pro- 
mise ?" 

" Anything, everything — rather than marry 
one you do not love — one from whom your 
soul revolts." 

" But Barberina — my poor, poor Barberina! 
Alas ! you know not...." 

" I do not wish to know anything of her. 
Miss Harcourt — Evelyn — hear me ! You have 
been advised into this. I see it all ! It is 
but too clear. You have been persuaded, 
urged by your cousin, to sell yourself to this 
Duke? Is it not so?" 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 63 

Evelyn bent her head still lower ; but she 
could not answer. It all seemed like a dream 
— a strange, unnatural dream ! 

" Yet you do not love him ! perhaps even, 
perhaps — forgive me — you love another !" 

She turned away her head, as though to 
hide the burning blushes which it seemed to 
her must reveal her secret. 

" Then hear me ! By every hope you che- 
rish of peace on earth, or happiness in heaven 
— by the free and blameless conscience you 
have borne till now, and would bear still — 
hear me ! I adjure you, endure all — abuse, 
contempt, reproaches, all that can be heaped 
upon you, angel as you are, rather than give 
yourself to that man !" 

Arthur Sherborne's voice rose to a tone of 
inexpressible energy as he uttered these 
words. His spirit was thoroughly roused ; 
and his inspiring ardour passed like light- 
nine: into the soul of Evelvn. She felt 
at that moment capable of enduring all 



64 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

— even of sacrificing her cousin for his 
sake. 

She raised her head, and fixed her eyes full 
upon his earnest countenance, glowing with 
enthusiastic eagerness. 

"Will you hear me — will you listen to 
me?" cried he, seizing her hand...." Beauti- 
ful, innocent being, you know not what is 
before you — to what peril you are hastening 
— to what enduring sorrow you are dooming 

yourself....! would save you — what, oh, what 

« 

would I not give to save you ! Do not cast 
away my warning." 

She clasped his hand involuntarily. 

" I will do all — anything you advise," cried 
she. " Oh, trust me — you ham saved me ! 
Be my guide...." 

As those glorious eyes still remained riveted 
on his, with an expression of perfect and con- 
fiding tenderness that could not be mistaken, 
a sweet and passionate hope suddenly darted 
through the soul of Arthur Sherborne. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 65 

m 

** Evelyn !"' cried he, "can it be possible 
that Heaven is opening before me — that 
something of the love with which my soul has 
worshipped you has passed to yours ? Evelyn, 
my beautiful, my adored ! — can it indeed be 
so?" 

But Evelyn had hid her face in her hands. 
Heaven had indeed opened before her.... 

Yes — it was over ! One look had be- 
trayed her secret : and as he pressed her 
wildly to his bosom, her innocent tears — tears 
of rapture such as she had never before known 
— bedewed her face.... 

It was a fitting scene for such emotions as 
now united these two, and raised them above 
this weary world. The beautiful lake was 
before them, calm and unruffled in its deep 
repose ; those eternal mountains, with a thou- 
sand exquisite and varying hues, around them ; 
and the serene sky, with its own pathless 
depths of clearest blue, above. Not a sound 
disturbed the stillness of the summer air — 



66 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

not an object recalled them from the spell 
that Love had cast around them. 

And there, in that exquisite scene, did she 
first learn how long, how passionately she had 
been loved — and how he had thought of her 
as of one far, far above him, one who never 
could be his. — And there, too, did he first 
draw from her the delicious confession of her 
deep, constant, unchanging tenderness. 

Never, perhaps, did two hearts before in 
this world more fully enter into the exquisite 
mystery of that passion which makes two one 
— whose divine nature is sufficient to redeem 
even the dreary mass of imperfections and 
follies of which our mortal nature is capable. 
As for her happiness, it was far too great for 
words. It was as yet hardly to be believed 
— yet he was there : — her hand was clasped in 
his, and his own lofty and impassioned spirit 
for the first time bowed itself submissively to 
hers — and that melodious voice, to which her 
heart had ever in past times vibrated, now 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 67 

whispered love — love, the most intense that 
ever man professed. 

It was the plenitude of bliss — such as she 
had never dreamed — more than she had ever 
dared to imagine .... 

" And why — why did you not tell me all 
before?" murmured she, at length. " Oh, 
Arthur ! how much misery you might have 
spared me !". . . . 

** My darling ! how could I dream of win- 
ning you ? — ^you, surrounded by all the noblest, 
and gayest, and most brilliant — with the 
whole world at your feet? And I, grave, 
meditative — a student and a philosopher — an 
author, too, and a poor one ! I thought it 
much that you bestowed a smile or a word 
upon me — I must have been mad indeed to 
aspire to your love ! I was too blest to ad- 
mire you at a distance — to love you as man 
never loved before — to long that it were but 
my privilege to watch over you, and warn you 
against the temptations to which I foresaw 



68 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

you would be exposed ! For you I often 
abandoned my lonely studies, and mixed in 
the gay world, so foreign to my tastes and 
habits — you were my constant companion ! 
Yes ! — think it not strange, love ! In my 
hours of meditation, your image was before 
me — when I opened the pages of graver 
thought, in which (as you know) I most 
delighted, that sweet image flitted before my 
eyes, veiling the immortal aspirings — the ma- 
jestic thoughts of departed spirits — chiding 
my melancholy and stern philosophy — rising 
between me and dreary truths, like a seraph 
of light — a thing that could not die.... How 
shall I tell you, my heart's own treasure, what 
you have been to me?... My idol by day — my 
dream by night — my sweetest thought at every 
moment ! From the hour when we first met, 
my heart flew to your homage — from the day 
when I first read your guileless soul, a new 
spirit entered into mine ! 

" I had never known before what it was to 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 69 

be really ambitious, but then I became so. 
For you T wrote — was I not writing to you ? 
You understood my thoughts — you had deigned 
to approve them — and was not your meed of 
praise far more than all? For your sake, I 
gloried in the favour of the many — I, who 
had never coveted but the approbation of 
the few ! I rejoiced that men courted and 
applauded me — for was not my name, by 
that means, mentioned with distinguished 
honour before you ? Yes, Evelyn, you have 
been my solace in hours of gloom — in a 
thousand brighter moments, my light and 
inspiration ! What have you not been to the 
lonely philosopher — the searcher after the 
dim unseen — unblessed, uncheered, until he 



" And yet you avoided me. . . . " 

" Never — but when I dared not approach 

you. There were moments indeed — many 

bitter moments — when you grieved me almost 

to madness. You were often cold — distant — 



70 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

SO forbidding ! — At such times, the world to 
me was darkened." 

" Yet I trembled lest I should betray — ^lest 
you should read my heart, and despise me." 

But the words died away upon her lips — 
for at that instant she felt them pressed to 
his ; and after that one passionate kiss — the 
first, the dearest — both were for some moments 
silent. But then came all the delight — and 
what to lovers can exceed it ? — of retrospec- 
tion — of recalling again and again each little 
incident their love had rendered precious — 
every well -remembered meeting — every che- 
rished look and tone ! And then his supposed 
attachment to Helen was alluded to, and all the 
various circumstances and causes that had led 
to such an error explained, as far as could be 
done, without betraying the secret connected 
with them. And Arthur told her how he had 
made a solemn vow to his father on his death- 
bed, that if he did not marry Lady Annette 
Sherborne, he would never marry at all, till 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 71 

he had paid off all that father's debts — a vow 
extorted for the purpose of ensuring his union 
with his cousin, which had been planned be- 
tween the fathers, but to which he had always 
resolutely objected. He told, too, how for 
years he had laboured with this object in 
view, resolved rather to work during his whole 
life-time than to marry one he could not love ; 
and how his later publications — those com- 
posed since he had known her — had done 
more to effect this object, from their rapid 
and unexampled sale, than any of the previous 
ones. He told her that these debts had all 
been paid off some time ago ; so that, if he 
had not riches to offer her, he was at least 
clear in the world, and free. 

He told her, too, how he had come to Italy, 
in the hope of seeing her — of living in her 
vicinity, being, at first, utterly ignorant of her 
engagement to the Duke of Shetland; and 
how, when the vague report he had since 
heard of it had been confirmed by Lady Truro 



72 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

at Rome, his very soul had seemed to die away 
within him, and although he had always anti- 
cipated such an engagement as but too pro- 
bable, he had felt as if all hope — all pleasure 
in life — were over for him. 

And then came the tale of what he had 
suffered since — his agony — his despair — his 
desperate longing to know from her own lips 
whether it were indeed true, yet his con- 
sciousness of the folly of such a wish — for 
how could he doubt the truth of what her 
cousin so positively asserted? All this he 
told her, and much, much more ; and she 
listened silently, wrapt in the incredible enjoy- 
ment of the present hour — never even dream- 
ing of the future. 

They had unconsciously wandered far from 
the spot where Deschamps had left them, but 
they never even heeded it. They saw nothing 
— thou2:ht of nothino: — but their new-found 
happiness and each other. 

At length, however, came the bitter recol- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 73 

lection to Evelyn's mind of Lady Truro. 
What was to be done ? How was she to be 
prepared for the intelligence which must come 
upon her — the death-blow to her ambitious 
hopes ? — how would she bear it ? Evelyn shud- 
dered at the idea, and reflected with horror 
upon the effect of such a shock in her cousin's 
present state of health. The Duke, too ! after 
so long an attachment as his, so sacred a pro- 
mise as hers, how could she ever break off her 
engagement ? Difficulties — misery — seemed 
to surround her on every side ; and her spirit 
sank within her at the prospect of all she 
would have to encounter. 

He strove to soothe her — he whispered 
encouraging words — hope — assurances of 
his unchanging tenderness, and — she was 
soothed. 

They parted at length, with the agreement 
that on the morrow he should call on Lady 
Truro to declare his attachment, and that she, 
in the mean time, should endeavour, as far as 

VOL. II. E 



74 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

possible, to prepare her cousin for the shock 
of so terrible an announcement. 



At the door of Lady Truro's sitting-room, 
Evelyn met Deschamps. 

" Ah! je votes croyois Men perdue, made- 
moiselle V cried she. " Miledi have been so ill 
— so ill ! Ah I ce sera sans doute monsieur le 
marquis — ilest terrihlement mauvaissujet^voilci 
qui est siir — des pleurs — des evanouissemens — 
des crispations de nerfsl — enfin„„\t is really 
good luck that I return myself back when I did." 

Evelyn waited to hear no more. She hur- 
ried into the room, where she found Lady 
Truro sitting with her face buried in her 
hands. She looked up as the door opened, 
and Evelyn saw that she had been crying 
violently. Then her own interests and anxieties 
were, for the moment, forgotten, and she flew 
to her cousin's side. 

" What is the matter, dearest Barberina? 
What bad news have you had ?" 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 75 

" Ah, Evelyn," cried Lady Truro, '' bad 
news indeed ! but I fear not all that might be 
told — I am resolved, however, to know all — I 
will not be deceived, abused, treated like a 
child, any longer — I will find out the worst 
for myself. To-morrow I set oiF for England." 

" To-morrow, Barberina — in your state ! 
Surely you are not in earnest V 

And at this moment, Evelyn, in the beauti- 
ful unselfishness of her generous nature, 
thought only of Lady Truro — she completely 
forgot herself. 

" I am in most melancholy earnest, 
Evelyn," replied her cousin bitterly ; " I 
could not have one moment's peace, if I re- 
mained here, after what I have learnt this 
morning. I should die of anxiety — of sus- 
pense. No — I will not wait a day more 
than I can help. Do not attempt to dissuade 
me, dearest ; it would be worse than useless — 
it would only grieve and harass me more. 
Go I must ; and that immediately. Rather 

E ^2 



76 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

aid me to bear up against this anxiety — to 
brace myself for the effort I must make..." 

" Only remember your child ! your unborn 
child—" 

'' I do remember it ; and therefore it is I 
go. My child shall not be beggared, without 
my making one effort at least to prevent it. — 
Say no more, Evelyn, for my nerves are tho- 
roughly unstrung ; and I must try and com- 
pose them, that I may be equal to the effort 
of to-morrow ! And you, love, prepare all on 
your part — I shall set out early, if possible. — 
And now I must go and lie down — but, alas ! 
there is no hope of rest for me." 

So saying, she rose, and slowly quitted the 
room ; whilst Evelyn remained, to ponder 
sadly over the course that she should pursue 
under the present altered circumstances. She 
felt that to tell her cousin what had happened 
at such a moment would be positive cruelty. 
She had enough to bear in her own anxieties — 
her own wretchedness — without any additional 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 77 

mortification, such as this would entail upon 
her. For the present, she must be kept in 
ignorance. But, perhaps, during their journey 
homeward, there might be some opportunity 
of breaking the news to her; and, in the 
mean time, she must reconcile herself, as she 
best could, to the misery of being torn from 
her lover in the first moments of their new- 
found happiness. But the Duke — alas ! what 
might not be in store for her in that quarter ? 
She was going to him; in a few days she 
should probably see him — and then — all must 
be disclosed — all put an end to between 
them. How should she ever be able to effect 
it ? It was terrible to think of. 

Lady Truro, too ! — After the intelligence 
of the morning, she w^ould more than ever 
count upon this marriage taking place. She 
had always said, that upon it depended Lord 
Truro's salvation from utter ruin ; and, now 
that it seemed he had again been seduced into 
gambling, what would be her feelings — what 



78 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

her despair, when she discovered that her 
only chance, her only hope, was gone— and 
Evelyn herself was turned against her ? 

These thoughts bitterly occupied the mind 
of the poor girl, during the weary hours she 
spent alone that melancholy evening. She 
knew not how to act — she was torn between 
contending feelings. She longed — oh ! how 
earnestly ! to open her whole heart to her 
cousin — to inform her of her meeting with 
her lover — her engagement to him — her irre- 
vocable determination to break off at once 
with the Duke — ^but she recoiled from the 
idea of the misery such a disclosure would 
create ; and the bare notion of the effect it 
might produce upon her cousin filled her 
with apprehension and dismay. She could 
not ask Arthur Sherborne's advice, for she 
felt bound in honour not to betray to him 
even what she knew of Lord Truro's difficul- 
ties, though that was little enough ; — and she 
could not endure that he should learn how 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 79 

much of selfish interest had been mixed up 
with Lady Truro's eagerness to promote her 
marriage. 

Letter after letter she wrote to him, but 
each was torn up as fast as written, for she 
could not satisfy herself with any. At last, 
however, one was concluded, informing him 
of the sudden change in their plans, the 
consequence of bad news received from Eng- 
land that very morning, and entreating him, 
if possible, to follow her there immediately, 
for she might greatly need his counsel and 
support. She told her reasons for not having 
at present disclosed her secret to Lady Truro, 
and added an earnest entreaty that, even 
if they should not set out the next day, he 
would not come to announce it, as they had 
settled he should do. 

This letter she gave orders to have sent 
that night; but, as Mr. Sherborne lived at 
some little distance, it so happened that it was 
not delivered to him till the following morning. 



80 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Whilst Evelyn was thus tormenting her- 
self with the probable effect the rupture of 
her engagement might have upon her cousin, 
it never occurred to her to suspect that it 
was in a great measure on her very account 
that that cousin had determined on so sudden 
a departure. Lady Truro had, it was true, 
received from a friend of hers that morning a 
private intimation that her faithless lord was 
again at his old tricks, and involving himself 
deeply at play ; but, though this news enraged 
and mortified her beyond expression, it had 
not determined her upon returning to Eng- 
land. She had intended to write a strong 
letter of remonstrance to her husband ; and 
to the Duke a most urgent entreaty that he 
would contrive, by fair means or foul, to 
detach his friend from his present associates, 
and bring him to her immediately. She had 
actually begun to write these letters, when 
Deschamps, who was completely in her con- 
fidence respecting Evelyn, entered hastily, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 81 

and informed her of the meeting which had 
just taken place between that young lady and 
Mr. Sherborne, adding, at the same time, her 
own conviction that it was by no means an 
accidental one. 

Lady Truro no sooner heard this, than her 
resolution was taken. She would return at 
once to England, and Evelyn should be married 
there forthwith. These meetings with Mr. 
Sherborne were far too dangerous to be per- 
mitted to continue, even if there were no actual 
mischief in them already. They must be put 
a stop to at once ; — for that Evelyn should be 
Duchess of Shetland, Lady Truro had abso- 
lutely resolved in her own hard and worldly 
mind ; and she was not one to flinch from 
any determination she had once resolutely 
formed. 

Accordingly, the following morning saw 
them on their road to England. 



E D 



82 EVELYN HARCOURT. 



CHAPTER XX. 

.... they felt assured 
Of happy times. 

Keats. 

.... the cold dew 
Of Death hung on his brow ; again he knew 
The large fond eyes that (oh, how tenderly!) 
Beamed upon his — he felt that he must die. 
But to leave her, so beautiful, so young, 
So very desolate .... 

the world was past for him, 
And death was stiffening every moveless limb. 

The Burning Forest. 

Emil. .... on her frights and griefs 
(Which never tender lady hath borne greater) 
She is something before her time delivered. 

Paul. A boy. 

Winter s Tale. 

In thie mean time, Helen and Frederic Percy 
were yet revelling in that sweetest of all earthly 
intoxications, the dream of young and happy 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 83 

love. To them the future was radiant with 
hope, for, did they not hope to spend it toge- 
ther? 

Never were two beings more wrapped up in 
each other, more completely adapted to one 
another! There was a lightness and gaiety 
of heart about him, that had for her a pecu- 
liar charm. With one of a powerful imagina- 
tion and lofty genius like Arthur Sherborne, 
her naturally grave and reflective disposition 
might have become almost gloomy ; but Frede- 
ric, gay and sanguine as he was, awakened in 
her a joyousness foreign to her till now. She 
had never before known what it was to be 
perfectly happy ; but now, it was necessary 
for her to be continually reminding herself of 
the instability of all earthly things, lest, from 
the very perfection of her happiness, she should 
insensibly grow to reckon on its duration. 

It was a cheerful winter — the first after 
their marriage ; for that winter they spent at 
home, and even the old man seemed almost to 



84 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

revive under the influence of their presence 
and their joy. He could not indeed forget 
the cherished partner of his own life ; but if 
anything could console him for her loss, it was 
the assurance that her darling Helen was so 
blest, so fortunate in the lot that had fallen to 
her. 

But at length the spring arrived — the 
spring, when they must bid farewell to their 
beloved Oriel, and seek a foreign and a dis- 
tant land. As the time of their departure 
approached, and it became evident that no- 
thing could be done to obviate the necessity 
of it, excepting Frederic Percy's leaving the 
army altogether — a step that would be highly 
prejudicial to his interests — they strenuously 
urged the poor old man to abandon his inten- 
tion of accompanying them. They more than 
ever disliked the idea of drawing him away 
from his own home, his own comforts — and 
they naturally dreaded for him the voyage, as 
well as the annoyances and privations he 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 85 

would probably have to encounter afterwards. 
But, all remonstrances were vain. He bad 
made up his mind to go with them; his means 
should assist theirs, (for Helen, it must be re- 
membered, was not entitled to her inheritance, 
he being alive, till she came of age) and no- 
thing but their declariilg him too great a 
burden should deter him from accompanying 
them. 

Arrangements were consequently made for 
their departure ; and it was settled that Mrs. 
Harry and her children should continue to 
occupy Oriel for the present, a competent 
person being appointed to manage the pro- 
perty in the absence of its master. Her 
friends in general were not a little astonished 
that she should have consented to such an 
arrangement, she having always declared that 
one of those detestable " campagnes en Angle- 
terre'' would be certain death ; but possibly 
she might have reasons of her own for not 
wishing to return to Paris at that particular 



86 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

juncture. At any rate, she seemed perfectly 
satisfied with the arrangement which installed 
her mistress of Oriel pro tern.; and consented, 
with no very had grace, to the positive condi- 
tion made by her father-in-law, that, in case 
Evelyn should wish to return there, she should 
be at all times warmly welcomed, and led 
to consider it her home as much as it had 
ever been. 

The little party embarked at Liverpool in 
one of the liners that sail regularly between 
that place and New York ; and after a some- 
what rough and tedious passage for the time 
of year, arrived safely at the latter place, 
where they took up their abode in that city 
of hotels, the Astor House. Here all was 
new to them, and proportionably entertaining. 

At that time, when steamers across the 
Atlantic had not been regularly established, 
and England had not yet been inundated with 
ten thousand descriptions, good, bad, and in- 
different, of American customs and manners, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 87 

the peculiarities of the Yankees were, of 
course, less familiar and more striking, and 
Helen felt indeed transplanted into a new 
hemisphere. There was a contrast between 
the quiet dinner-table at Oriel and the crowded 
table d'hote of the Astor House, wdiere hundreds 
of strano^e and sino^ular faces met her view. 
But she was conscious of little of that sense 
of isolation which is usually felt so keenly 
under such circumstances ; for all, nearly all, 
whom she loved best were with her. There 
was only Evelyn to think of and regret ; and 
Evelyn was indeed a painful recollection ; for 
she was miserable, and about, as Helen feared, 
to be still more so. 

The evening before they were to leave New 
York was so lovely, that Frederic Percy per- 
suaded his wife to come out and enjoy it with 
him on the Battery ; and, leaving the old man 
dozing over an English newspaper in his room, 
the lovers, for such they still were, set off 
toofether. 



88 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Never had they felt more, perfectly, more 
exquisitely happy, than on that evening ! 
They heeded not the crowds that surrounded 
them, nor felt lonely in the midst of strangers ; 
but conversed with the hopeful and serene 
gladness of two devoted hearts, concerning 
their bright future, their home, their various 
plans ! And oh ! what joy to have a home of 
their own ! — one, too, in which the dear old 
man, their kind companion, should be an 
honoured and a cherished inmate ! 

" And you will be welcomed, love, with 
warmth by my brother officers," said Frederic. 
" And you must like them too, for there are 
many among them for whom I have a real 
regard. It will not be like going among 
strangers ; — there will be plenty to cherish 
and admire you, even on this side the At- 
lantic." 

" Dearest, who do I want to cherish me but 
you ? No place — no country — can be strange 
where you are. And shall not I soon have 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 89 

another tie to attach me to our home ? Ah ! 
I shall have interests enough ! — " 

As she spoke, he pressed the arm he held 
tenderly to his side. 

" We are indeed blessed I" he observed, 
" far beyond our utmost deserts. I often 
wonder at my unspeakable happiness, and 
sometimes tremble lest it should be too per- 
fect to last — " 

Helen sighed. 

** Alas ! all happiness is at best but un- 
certain in this world," said she ; " but it were 
the height of ingratitude not to enjoy it whilst 
we may. Yet I own my heart will sink some- 
times, when the thought recurs that we must 
one day part, like those two whose love re- 
sembled ours, and who, after passing more 
than half a century together, are separated at 
last ! But, oh ! Frederic ! what ecstasy to 
feel that we may hope to meet again !" 

*' Yet, if I were to lose you, I fear.... I fear 
that I should feel nothing but despair. What 



90 EVELYN HAKCOURT. 

a weary, miserable future ! years and years 
before one perhaps — to drag on alone ! . . And 
after such happiness...." 

" Perhaps not. Life is a strange mystery, 

and who can say when it shall cease? For 

my part, I believe despair would not last long 
under such a bereavement ! The Present 
would indeed be utterly darkened ; but only 
to make the Future all the brighter. Like 
that dear old man, you would forget the sor- 
row of time in the Prospect — the mighty 
prospect — of Eternity — the anguish of parting 
in the hope of reunion ! In short, the very 
darkness, the ruggedness of the foreground, 
would but throw out into brighter light the 
illumined landscape in the distance. For 
myself, I sometimes think, (and to me such 
thoughts are, as you know, far more familiar 
than to you, for they better suit my graver 
nature) that were you to be taken from me, 
from that moment my interests, my affections, 
would be entirely detached from earth — trans- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 91 

planted to another clime. I may delude my- 
self ; but I fancy that the very magnitude of 
my loss would give me calmness to bear it. 
It would be the loss of all. Not here would 
there be any thing left to tremble for — to 
cherish — but above ! above ! would be the 
gain of more than all to hope for, and aspire 
to. Never could I forget you whilst I lived ; 
but I should think of you as one who, though 
lost to me on earth, should be restored again 
with a far heavenlier nature, a more exalted 
love !" 

As she uttered these words in a tone of the 
deepest feeling, she looked up in his face, and 
perceived that a shade of melancholy had 
obscured its usually happy and cloudless ex- 
pression. 

" Let us talk no more of such sad things !'* 
said she ; " God has hitherto singularly blessed 
our love, and let us be thankful for it ; and only 
pray for resignation to give each other up when 
He«hall see fit to require it ! — " 



92 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

And soon they were more than ever absorbed 
in sweet anticipations of the future, and of 
the new and delicious interest that awaited 
them in the expected birth of her little one. 

Oh ! happy is it indeed for us, short-sighted 
mortals, that our eyes cannot pierce the veil 
which hangs before the impenetrable Future ! 
Not many an hour of pure or tranquil enjoy- 
ment would be ours in this unsatisfying world, 
could we but read the irrevocable decrees of 
Providence ! 

The little party soon quitted New York, and 
proceeded up the beautiful Hudson, more and 
more delighted each moment as they advanced 
with the unequalled loveliness of those en- 
chanting shores, which, to the eye of a stranger 
wearied with the perpetual prospect of the 
ocean, from which he is but just emancipated 
after a tedious voyage, certainly bear all the 
appearance of a Fairy Land. In due time, 
they arrived at Montreal, where Captain 
Percy's regiment was at that time quartered, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 93 

and where Helen was beyond measure de- 
lighted with the reception she met with from 
his brother officers, who seemed to consider 
him more in the light of a favourite brother 
who was restored to them after a long absence, 
than as a mere comrade or friend. With some 
difficulty, he at length procured lodgings, 
w^hich in that country are not easy to obtain, 
except at one particular time of the year ; — 
and then followed a short period of perfect 
and intense happiness. But, alas ! how^ short ! 
how sadly short ! 

One day, after a great review in the Champ 
de Mars, at which he had assisted, Frederic 
returned home, feeling very unwell. At first 
his symptoms were such as to appear of little 
importance ; but they increased rapidly, and 
at length became so serious, as to occasion 
considerable alarm. His constitution had 
never been a strong one, and the physician of 
the regiment, who had known him long, and 
loved him as a brother, perceiving the violence 



94 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of the attack, very soon began to entertain 
painful apprehensions as to its result. 

It is a merciful dispensation of Providence, 
the wisdom of which cannot be too highly 
appreciated, that a certain period of sickness 
is in most cases made to precede the depar- 
ture from this weary world of those we 
love. The details of suffering and decay are 
indeed hard to witness and to bear ; but they 
are not without their softening and bene- 
ficial effects ; and it is wonderful how short a 
period of fear, and watching, and anxiety, 
will suffice to accustom the mind to the idea 
of the separation which must soon follow. A 
few, a very few hours will sometimes do this 
in a manner which seems almost incredible to 
those who look back upon them afterwards. 
But who shall calculate the flight of thought, 
or the rapidity of feeling? What countless 
fears, and doubts, and apprehensions, — what 
myriads of experiences of all kinds, may be 
crowded into the tiny space of a few short 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 95 

inoments ? Years of suffering may be lived 
over in a single day. 

First, there is the grief of beholding the 
prostration, the helplessness of one we love, 
and are accustomed to see blithe, and strong, 
and cheerful ; then the fear lest that illness 
should be indefinitely prolonged, and lingering 
disease and weakness should ensue ; then the 
beginning of a far worse fear, from which at 
first we turn away with horror, as from a 
possibility too dreadful to be even glanced at; 
then the gradual necessity of looking at that 
possibility more sternly, till at last it becomes 
an awful probability, yet still with hope ever 
by, to encourage and support ; then the sud- 
den and powerful sense of the value of the 
treasure we tremble for — a value we seem to 
have never duly acknowledged to ourselves 
before — just as men know not the strength of 
cords that hang loosely till they have endea- 
voured to break them asunder ; and, lastly, 
the gradual decay of all hope, long as we 



96 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

strive to retain it, till Death itself steps in, 
and all is indeed over.... Who has not felt 
these bitter experiences ? — for in what place, 
under what roof, has Death not entered ? 

But I will not harrow up the feelings of 
my readers with a description of poor Helen's 
endurance at this time. Overwhelming as 
was her trial, she yet found support under it, 
and mitigations, the mercy of which, even in 
the midst of her anguish, her humbled yet 
submissive spirit gratefully acknowledged. 
The exceeding kindness and sympathy shown 
her on all sides, the affection and anxiety of 
her poor old grandfather, and, above all, the 
extraordinary serenity and hopefulness of 
Frederic's mind — all tended to support her 
during this fearful period, and to inspire her 
with a sense of duty on her own part. Her 
husband, unselfish to the last, thought only 
of her, of her youth, her desolation, her 
anxious and touching condition, so soon to 
become a mother : and for his sake, to calm 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 97 

his apprehensions and relieve his anxiety, she 
endeavoured to conceal as far as possible her 
own misery, and consented to take every pos- 
sible precaution for herself. For his sake, 
and that of his unborn child, what was there 
she would not do ? 

How often, during the short period this 
illness lasted, did the thoughts of both inter- 
nally recur to that memorable walk at New 
York, and the singular conversation which 
seemed almost like a foreshadowing of what 
was so soon to follow ! Now, indeed, the 
time was come for her to prove the truth of 
her words on that occasion, to show that 
despair was not for her. But, like many 
other sufferers, she found how far, far short 
the most vivid imagination of such a trial 
com.es to the sad and fearful reality ! and if 
she never actually abandoned herself to de- 
spair at this time, it was more that she felt 
the necessity of putting a powerful check 
upon herself for his sake, than because she 

VOL. II. F 



98 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

was capable of commanding that calmness 
she had hoped to feel. 

There were moments indeed when her soul 
was wrung with a degree of torture, of the 
horror of which she had never before con- 
ceived even an idea; but these paroxysms 
were generally short. The sight of his be- 
loved countenance, calm, almost cheerful, even 
in increasing weakness and languor, the sound 
of his voice, whispering words of tenderness 
and encouragement, ever recalled to her her 
wonted composure; and, strange to say, it 
was now Frederic who spoke to her with 
calmness of their approaching separation ; he 
who had feared formerly that he could never 
endure the prospect of it without despair. 

The end came at last ; and it was singu- 
larly peaceful and serene. Indeed, as she sat 
beside his bed, with his hand clasped in hers, 
she hardly knew at what moment he had 
ceased to breathe, so placid, so painless had 
been the departure of his spirit ! 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 99 

Who could describe the sensation that was 
produced by the early death of that young 
soldier ! His comrades wept for him as for a 
brother : they could scarcely believe he was 
really gone — the Fred Percy who had been 
the delight, the pride, the idol of their corps ! 
It was too sudden, too melancholy! Even 
the hardest, the most thoughtless and insen- 
sible among them, was deeply grieved. All 
felt it was a loss that never could be repaired. 

Had Helen been conscious at this time of 
the innumerable proofs of devoted affection to 
his memory, and tender sympathy for herself 
that were shown by every one connected with 
him, she must, one would think, have been 
soothed by them, even if they could not have 
afforded her comfort. But she was uncon- 
scious of all. She had, by unceasing strug- 
gles, nerved herself to endurance to the last ; 
but when all was indeed over, all hope gone, 
the mighty control she had put upon herself 
began to tell upon her. She became very 

F 2 



100 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

seriously ill ; and before the last remains of 
poor Frederic Percy had been consigned to 
the earth by his afflicted brother officers, the 
feeble cry of a new-born infant was heard 
within those melancholy walls. The child, 
whose birth was premature, was so fearfully 
delicate, that for many days it was not ex- 
pected to live ; but the anxiety and appre- 
hension of the mother on its account effected 
]nore, both for it and for herself, than any 
thing else on earth could have done. She 
had still an object, an interest on earth, whilst 
this child lived ; and for its sake she struggled 
against her grief — she forbade herself to weep 
— she nerved herself against the remembrance 
of her loss. He had been full of care and 
thought for his unborn infant, which he was 
not even destined to behold ; and how could she 
better cherish his memory than by cherishing 
his child ! Day by day she watched over it, 
and nursed it, and prayed beside it ; till at 
last the little tender flower began to flourish 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 101 

beneath the anxious, tearful gaze, and she 
dared to hope that it might bloom indeed on 
earth. 

Oh, heart of a mother! what shall equal 
thine inexhaustible, thy sublime treasures of 
patience, and tenderness, and hope ! 



102 EVELYN HAKCOURT. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

Dread fever seized upon her strength 
.... with dear love 
She stood beside her couch, and strove 
To cool her throbbing temples. 

Prowse. 

.... Breathings of prayer 
Were on her lips ; but still his name 
Mix'd with each liquid accent as it came, 
As if to love him were her only care ; 
.... and her eye 
Sparkled again with light, and life, and love. 

Ibid. 

Lady Truro arrived in London more dead 
than alive. The fatigue of so long a journey, 
made too with unusual rapidity, had a most 
injurious effect upon her feeble frame; and 
the physicians whom it was found necessary 
to call in, almost immediately after her ar- 
rival, soon began to entertain the most serious 
apprehensions respecting her. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 103 

Lord Truro was at first so exasperated at 
her having dared to return to England with- 
out his permission, that, after a violent scene, 
he absented himself entirely from the house 
for several days; and it was actually from 
common report at his club, that he first 
became acquainted with the fact of her dan- 
gerous illness. Alarmed, and not wholly 
without " some compunctious visitings of na- 
ture," he then hurried to her bedside, and 
endeavoured in some measure to atone for his 
cruel neglect of her, by endearing expressions 
and assurances of sympathy. But she was 
too much worn out, too utterly exhausted, to 
be able to pay any great heed to him ; and a 
heavy sigh, or a feeble pressure of the hand, 
was all the reply she was able to make to his 
words. 

For many days, she remained in the same 
precarious state, her physicians constantly 
expecting the premature birth of her infant, 
and deeming it almost a matter of impossi- 



104 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

bility that she could survive such an event. 
Under such circumstances, it was, of course, 
utterly impossible for Evelyn to allude to the 
subject which was ever uppermost in her own 
mind. She had once or twice made an at- 
tempt to introduce it during their journey ; 
but such had been the effect produced, and 
such the state of mental excitement as well 
as bodily suffering of poor Lady Truro during 
that journey, that she had found it impossible 
to dwell upon it, or indeed upon any painful 
or agitating topic. 

She made up her mind, however, to speak 
to the Duke himself, to declare openly to him 
her feelings, and at once to confess the deter- 
mination to which she had lately come of 
breaking off their engagement. She was 
grieved to take such a step, as it were, in de- 
fiance of Lady Truro, and without her know- 
ledge ; but it was unavoidable — and she felt 
that, since it was to be done, it could not be 
done too soon. The Duke, however, hap- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 105 

pened to be at one of his estates in Scotland, 
where he had gone only a couple of days be- 
fore their arrival, and for the next fortnight 
he continued absent, so that she was blest 
with a short interval of peace before the storm 
should come, which must burst upon her. 

And now the power of Evelyn's ardent and 
energetic character began to develop itself. 
Under the influence of her happy love, the 
inspiring and divhie consciousness that she 
was beloved in return by him she worshipped, 
she became a different creature. Her step 
resumed its former elasticity, her eye shone 
with a brighter lustre; and over her whole 
countenance was shed a nameless expression, 
an indefinable air of triump and command ; 
for she bore within her a proud certainty, a 
delicious consciousness, that raised her above 
all things ; and she felt strong to endure all, 
to struggle against all. And in every thought, 
every act of her life, painful or pleasurable, 
his image. Ids remembrance was mixed up. 

F 5 



106 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

In the confinement of the sick-room, for she 
very rarely quitted Lady Truro, he was ever 
present with her; in the dreary night, when 
watching by the invalid to administer the 
composing draught, or smoothe the uneasy 
pillow, he was by, filling the lonely chamber 
with sweet images, and thoughts of peace and 
gladness, that nothing could disturb. When 
she stole a few hours of sleep, it was like 
going to him — for she beheld him in her 
dreams, and on his face ever shone the same 
liever-to-be-forgotten expression it had worn 
when last they parted. 

Her only sorrow now was on Lady Truro's 
account ; and many were the tears she shed 
when she gazed on that pale face, and saw 
those sunken features grow each day more 
sharp, those wasted limbs waste more and 
more. It was agonizing to think of the bitter 
disappointment that awaited that beloved be- 
ing too — one who had so trusted, so cherished 
her ! These were sad thoughts, and she could 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 107 

not banish them. Too often they would recur, 
poisonmg even at times her happy thoughts 
of him ! 

Day after day passed by, and neither the 
Duke nor Arthur Sherborne arrived, till, at 
length, she began to feel both surprised and 
anxious at hearing nothing from the latter. 
At last, however, a letter did come from him, 
which more than repaid her for all her anxiety. 
It was short, and not too legible, for it was 
written with considerable difficulty ; but it 
told her of his unchanging love, and that was 
enough. The very day after they had last 
met, he had had a fall from his horse, and had 
severely sprained his ancle, besides receiving 
other injuries, from which he had since been 
laid up; and though very much better, he 
was as yet unable to leave his sofa, and was 
forbidden to make the least exertion. The 
instant he was permitted, however, with what 
rapture would he not hasten to her side ! 

Oh, how many tears were shed over that 



108 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

letter !.... how often was it stealthily drawn 
forth in the long hours of the night, and 
gazed upon, and softly replaced in her bosom ! 
And how many hidden things, how many un- 
utterable proofs of love, did she not perceive 
in every sentence, which others would not 
have dreamt of! Those rough and uneven 
characters had for her a strange charm. 

Lord Truro was now constant in his visits 
to his wife; and under the influence of his 
increased kindness she seemed somewhat to 
revive. It was after one of these visits, 
during which they had appeared to converse 
eagerly together, for her voice was heard 
stronger and more animated than usual, that 
she observed to Evelyn, after his departure — 

" My love, I feel better to-night." 

" Thank God !" cried Evelyn, approach- 
ing her, and pressing her attenuated hand — 
** What a blessing to hear you say so !" 

" And how can I ever repay you, Evelyn, 
for all your tenderness — your care of me ? — I 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 109 

try not to think of it, for it overcomes me 
too much, and I am too weak yet to bear any 
emotion, any...." 

" Oh, yes ! do not excite yourself — you 
know that I have done nothing but what was 
happiness inexpressible to me to do. How 
can you talk of gratitude to me? it is a 
mockery !" 

" I will not, though Heaven knows how 
much I feel it — and not for this last proof 
only.... Evelyn, Truro has just been telling 
me that the Duke will be here to-morrow...." 

Evelyn started, and turned pale as death. 
Lady Truro felt the movement, though she 
could not see the change of countenance. 

" You will receive him kindly — warmly, 
as you should do, dearest, for my sake," 
continued she ; " even though I shall not be 
there to see you. You will, my Evelyn, will 
you not ?" 

But Evelyn made no answer. What, in- 
deed, could she say? 



110 E VELYN HARCOURT. 

" I shall trust to your honour — to your 
affection for me!" continued her cousin; 
" you would never take advantage of my 
illness — of my absence...." 

" Do not let us talk of it, dear Barberina," 
said Evelyn, hastily interrupting her; "you 
know Dr. Locock said you must not have the 
smallest excitement of any kind ; he even de- 
sired yesterday that you should be kept 
quieter than ever. If you talk any more upon 
this subject, you will get agitated, and I 
shall be forced to leave the room !" 

" I will not, then — I will not — but oh ! 
Evelyn ! more, much more depends on you 
now, than you can tell ; more than ever ! I 
repeat, / trust to you — to your solemn 
promise, made so long ago ; and for which I 
have never ceased to bless you ! Be faithful 
to it, for my sake !" 

That night, Evelyn scarcely closed her 
eyes ; her mind was too full of anxiety — of 
restless agitation. She thought of the pro- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 1 1 

bable meeting of the ensuing day — of the 
utter unconsciousness of the Duke ; and in 
vain she endeavoured to determine within 
herself what she should say — how conduct 
herself under the painful necessity that awaited 
her. How she trembled at the idea of what 
the next four and twenty hours must bring 
forth ! She could see no outlet — no possible 
way of escape from the difficulties that sur- 
rounded her ! There was something about 
the Duke that had always impressed her with 
a certain degree of fear as well as of dislike. 
He was not one who was accustomed to be 
thwarted ; and there was an expression in his 
countenance which irresistibly conveyed the 
idea, that he could be both violent and vin- 
dictive when roused. How would he ever 
bear the disappointment that awaited him — 
coming, too, as it would do, without the 
smallest preparation ? If he should positively 
refuse to give her up !...From what she knew 
of his disposition, and the violence of his 



1 1 2 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

passion, she thought this not unlikely ! — But 
he could not force her to be his — he had no 
power over her as yet — that was one com- 
fort ! Even Lady Truro could not compel 
her to anything against her own will, though 
she might entreat — implore — and try to exert 
her influence, as she had done before... Evelyn 
felt steeled against that influence now, though 
her heart bled when she thought of her unfortu- 
nate cousin, and of all the misery that was in 
store for her ! Who could say what might be 
the consequence of so bitter a disappointment 
in her present critical state ? She shuddered 
to think that it might even cost her her life ! 

Alas ! the time was come at length ! the 
dreaded time ! Oh ! for strength and courage 
to endure it !... 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 113 



CHAPTER XXII. 



.... Hast thou 'never heard of mercy ? 
Could not thy harshest vengeance he content ? 

Keats. 

Cet hymen n'est fatal .... 

CoRNEILLE. 

Je veux que ma main porte le coup mortel. 

Ibid. 



" You cannot be in earnest, Miss Harcourt, 
in this resolve — this most sudden and unex- 
pected change ! After all my devotion — months 
of solemn engagement — you cannot turn round 
upon me now — now, at the eleventh hour — 
and refuse to fulfil your promise. I will not 
believe you are in earnest." 

" I am — indeed I am. Have I not opened 
my whole heart to you ? Have I not con- 



114 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

fessed all — my love — my devotion to ano- 
ther?. ..You could not wish me to fulfil my 
engagement now, even if I would — it is im- 
possible !" 

" Ah ! you little know me ; nor what my 
feelings are, when roused. Not wish it ! — I 
would give up all I possess — my rank — my 
fortune — but to call you mine ! And mine 
you must be — you have sworn it — " 

" Never ! Worlds should not prevail upon 
me now — Oh, Duke, be generous ! and what 
eternal gratitude shall I not owe you ? Have 
not I acted openly — have I concealed anything 
from you — have not I humbled myself even 
to confessing that my heart was given un- 
sought? — that I knew not till lately that I 
was beloved?" 

" Beloved ! — and by that melancholy, 
miserable, rhyme-stringing..." 

" Hold !" cried Evelyn, drawing herself up 
to her full height, whilst her magnificent eyes 
flashed with an indignation, before which even 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 115 

his quailed for an instant ; " not another word 
of him ! If I have ventured to speak of him at 
all, it is that I feel how bitter — how ungra- 
cious — is the hard task I have to perform 
towards you ; and I would gladly soften it if 
I could — but not another word of him.'' 

" But I will speak of him, scoundrel that 
he is — to take advantage of my absence as he 
has done, and seduce from me what I valued 
above all ! Yes, I will speak of him — I will 
proclaim his baseness — his treachery, far and 
wide — wherever his hypocritical face, his de- 
tested name, are known ! He shall become 
doubly notorious — his fame shall not die." 

" His fame, his reputation ! You cannot 
touch them ! — they are above the utmost 
power of your malice to injure. Who that 
knows Arthur Sherborne could doubt his 
honour for a moment? — Who that gazed upon 
his face could suspect of him of a single base 
thought — a single ignoble action ? No ! he 
is safe from you, and from all such ; — and not 



116 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

for him can be the fear or the suspicion ! 
High in his own majestic truth, he stands 
alone ; one that, if few can hope to reach or 
comprehend, at least none may dare to doubt : 
towering in the splendour of his own un- 
equalled genius ! You cannot harm /iz??2." 

Beautiful— inexpressibly beautiful was the 
countenance of that young girl, as these 
words burst forth with all the passionate 
eagerness of her own glowing nature. Her 
eyes sparkled — her form seemed actually to 
dilate as she uttered them. 

The Duke gazed upon her with astonish- 
ment. Never till now had he known what she 
was — never had he imagined the depths of 
feeling, the energy of soul, that lay hidden 
beneath that cold and melancholy exterior. 
For the first time, he learned something of the 
spirit that animated Evelyn — something of 
the devotion, the inspiration, of which she 
was capable. 

And never had his love been so powerful — 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 117 

SO engrossing — never had he longed to win 
her with such intensity as now, when he was 
about to lose her for ever : and she maddened 
him by declarations of her adoration for 
another. 

There was a pause of a few moments, during 
which he struggled powerfully with emo- 
tions which never in the whole course of a 
reckless and profligate life had before been 
equalled. 

" It is well — " said he, at length, in a 
forced and hollow voice. " You reject me — 
me, to whom you have been so long engaged 
— who have shown you such constant and true 
attachment — you break the promise you have 
made, and you care not if, in so doing, you 
also break the heart I gave you. But I will 
be revenged ! — yes, I will be revenged, even 
if I should peril my own soul ! Mark my 
words, Evelyn Harcourt ! Whilst I live, you 
never shall belong to that man ! I will follow 
hira — I will hunt him down to the very ends 



118 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of the earth ! He shall not escape me — he shall 
pay dearly for the injury he has done me ! 
Yes — Revenge I can still command — and I 
will have it !" 

Evelyn's cheek turned deadly pale at these 
words. 

" You would not harm him ?" she faintly 
articulated. 

" Harm him ! — I would have his heart's blood 
— I will have it ! This world shall no longer 
contain him and me — before another week is 
over, one of us shall have ceased to breathe !" 

" Heavens ! are you a Christian, and can 
you utter such words ?" cried Evelyn, almost 
breathless with unutterable horror. " Would 
you murder him in cold blood ?" 

" No — not so ; — his chance of life shall be 
at least as good as mine — and better ! But 
one of us shall perish — I swear it — and if I 
fall ..." 

" Oh ! you are incapable of such a crime. 
You know not what you say. Have mercy — 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 119 

speak not such dreadful words. — How has he 
ever wronged you ?" 

" How ? — What call you this sudden, this 
accursed change in yourself? — you, whom I 
loved — ah ! you little know how fondly ! Is 
it not he who has wrought that change — is 
not he the cause — and is not that a wrong — 
ay, and a deadly one too ? And you would 
have me give you tamely up — hand you over 
to him with all the readiness imaginable — you, 
the only being on earth I ever really loved ! 
You would have me smile upon your attach- 
ment — rejoice over the prospect of his happi- 
ness ! — Miss Harcourt, you little know me. I 
do not lightly love — perhaps am not easily 
moved to hate ; but once my passions strongly- 
roused, as they have been to-day, and they 
are not so easily laid to sleep. Farewell! 
perhaps we meet no more in this world; — 
but the day is not far distant, when, if you 
value human blood, you will repent the course 
you are pursuing — " 



120 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

** Stay, stay !" cried Evelyn, half frantic 
with the violence of her fears. '' What is it 
that you would do — what horrible crime are 
you about to commit ?" 

*' Nothing but what the world fully sanc- 
tions, young lady," replied the Duke, with an 
expression of savage sarcasm. " Fortunately, 
when a man has been aggrieved — deeply in- 
jured by another — he has still one means of 
seeking redress ; — existence were not worth 
having else." 

" You would call him out ! you would 
murder him — he who never injured you ! Yes, 
it is true ; — he never did. I myself confessed 
to him my repugnance to this marriage — I 

told him I was forced into it, and he read 

but too clearly my devotion — my love for him- 
self — I could not conceal them. Oh, have 
mercy on him ! Kill me, if you will — but 
have mercy on him .'" 

" Mercy ! I will have none !" cried the Duke, 
with redoubled fury ; for every fresh proof of 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 121 

her attachment to his rival did but add fuel 
to the flame of his jealousy. " I tell you I 
will not live to behold you the wife of that 
man — I would sooner die a thousand deaths." 

" Heavens ! can no prayers move you — 
you, who have so often sworn there was no 
wish of mine you would not grant ? Is there 
not one single spark of pity within your 
breast?" 

" You have had none for me — you cared 
not to break my heart !" 

" Oh, yes; you know not all I have felt 
and suffered on your account — how I have 
dreaded this hour, and what I feared must be 
your feelings ! I have had pity for you." 

" Ha ! no doubt ; — and you proved it by 
confiding to that man your repugnance to be- 
come mine — by volunteering the information 
that you were forced into this marriage — and 
that your soul revolted from it. At least, 
you might have condescended to bestow that 
information first upon myself." 

VOL. II. G 



122 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

** Upon you ! Lady Truro assured me again 
and again that you knew all — that she herself 
had told you all my repugnance — my aversion 
— and that you still persisted . , . . " 

•** Lady Truro !" cried he, whilst an expres- 
sion of ineffable contempt passed over his fea- 
tures ; " Lady Truro knew better than to tell 
me what she might well suppose would have 
terminated all between us. — And what says 
Lady Truro now? She must be gratified by 
this breach of faith !" 

" Alas ! she knows nothing. She has been 
very — very ill — her life almost despaired of. 
How could I tell her what I knew would so 
distress her ? She knows nothing — " 

" You reserve the intelligence till it shall 
more certainly destroy. You are merciful." 

" Oh ! do not speak such cruel words. If 
you knew how miserable I am, you w^ould not 
crush me thus." 

" And why miserable? You love, and are 
beloved ! What more would you desire?" 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 123 

" But I fear you. You are so terrible in 
your anger ! When I hoped for generosity — 
indulgence — I find you implacable. Perhaps 
I have been faulty towards you — I know not. 
I have been led on — persuaded — I knew not 
what I did ! But oh ! visit not my fault — 
my treachery if you will — upon his head !" 

" Upon his head and no other will I visit 
it !" cried the Duke furiously. — " Think not 
to shield him by such vain excuses. I swear 
— and never yet have I betrayed an oath — 
that he or I shall fall !" 

" Merciful Heaven !" cried Evelyn, throwing 
herself at his feet, and clinging to him in all 
the agony of a terror too mighty to describe, 
" Is there no alternative ? Must he die ?" 

" He must — unless indeed I should fall by 
his hand. You had better go and pray for 
that !" 

" Is there no hope — no hope?. ..." 

" There is one. Be mine, and he is safe /" 

She shuddered, and gasped for breath — 

G 2 



124 EVELYN H ARCOURT. 

'^ Never !" cried she, almost involuntarily. 
" That were worse than death." 

*' Then, farewell ; — and his blood or mine 
be on your head." 

*' Oh, stay ! stay !" she shrieked, clinging to 
his knees as he attempted to depart — ** Not 
yet.... one moment more — hear me — hear 
me!.." 

" It is in vain to attempt to detain me!" 
he cried, fiercely, yet turning away from the 
wild reproachful expression of those eyes ; " I 
have sued to you, and you have scorned and 
rejected me, and even at the eleventh hour 
have turned and stung me. Now it is ^our 
turn to sue in vain. I tell you, proud girl, 
the lover you doat on shall never be yours. 
He shall die !" 

" Oh, no, no ! I will consent to all — to 
any thing, rather than that! I promise it... 
Spare but him !" 

" I heed not promises that will be broken 
to morrow. Let me pass." 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 125 

** But I swear it. I will be yours — I will 
abandon him. For his own dear sake, I will 
abandon him — only spare him !" 

" Swear it, then." 

" I swear it ; — yes — solemnly — for his 
precious sake..." 

The words died on her lips — her brain 
reeled — a mist swam before her eyes — a rush- 
ing sound oppressed her ears — and she fell 
back in strong convulsions . . . 

Wlien she came to herself, she was stretched 
on the sofa in Lady Truro's dressing-room ; 
and Deschamps was standing over her, ad- 
ministering restoratives. Her first thought 
was for her cousin — her first words, a faint 
inquiry respecting her. 

Lady Truro had been much startled by the 
report of her sudden illness, but still more 
shocked by the occasion of it, which had been 
communicated to her by Lord Truro, to whom 
the Duke had, whilst still in a state of fearful 
excitement, recounted the whole scene that had 



126 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

taken place. This sudden intelligence natu- 
rally produced a most pernicious effect upon 
Lady Truro. It was indeed a stunning blow 
— but she could only hope that all chance 
was not yet completely over. The Duke had 
talked of renewed promises, on the part of 
Evelyn — wrung from her by excess of terror 
at his menaces ; but he scarcely seemed to 
lay much stress, or place much dependance 
upon these. Evelyn must be worked upon, 
however — nothing must be left untried. Her 
fears — her affection for her cousin — her very 
tenderness for her lover, must all be brought 
into play to bring about this marriage. It 
must take place ;— now, more than ever, it 
must be achieved. 

By slow degrees, recollection returned to 
Evelyn ; she began to recall the whole of the 
terrible scene she had gone through ; and, 
with a sensation of horror that no words can 
describe, she remembered that she had a 
second time relinquished her freedom — that 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 127 

she had once more promised to give herself 
to the man she abhorred with a greater detes- 
tation, a more intense loathing, now than 
ever. 

*' Help me— oh ! my God !" cried she, sud- 
denly starting up with the look and manner 
of one whose reason had well nigh departed. 
" Help me, for I cannot help myself. Oh ! 
that I micyht die rather than become his ! — 
Can it indeed be true — or am I not dream- 
inor ? Yet, no ! — his threats were but too 
real. He swore that he would take his life — 
his precious life — aud it was for his sake I con- 
sented to my own infamy — my own unspeak- 
able anguish ! Leave me !" cried she, haughtily, 
to Deschamps, who, partly from dread of ano- 
ther fit, partly from curiosity to discover all 
she could respecting the fracas, was still 
hovering about her ; " leave me !"... 

'^ Mais, mademoiselle,..'^ 

" Leave me, I say. I tvill be obeyed !" 

And the woman, awed by her manner, de- 



128 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

parted to inform her lady that Miss Harcourt 
"jouoit la haute tragedie d merveille " in the 
adjoining apartment. 

Perhaps Evelyn endured a greater intensity 
of suffering during the next few hours than 
she was ever called upon to do in an equal 
space of time during her after life. The 
transition from happiness and hopes the 
sweetest, to the depths of the most dreadful 
despair, was so rapid, the change so mighty 
and overwhelming, that she felt crushed ! 
There had been no preparation, no gradual 
accustoming of the mind to the calamity that 
was to fall upon her, as is the case in most 
severe afflictions ; the blow had come over- 
poweringly, and at once. It was the sudden 
death once more of all hope. But was all 
hope indeed over ? — was there no alternative, 
no possible means of escape ? Alas ! her 
fears told her none. The Duke was a friend, 
implacable and relentless; he had sworn that 
he would hunt him down — that he would 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 29 

never abandon his pursuit, till one of their 
lives had been the forfeit ; and she felt a hor- 
rible certainty that he would keep his word. 
The idea, the chance, was too dreadful to be 
contemplated... 

She started up, and paced about the room 
with rapid steps. She fancied she could al- 
most hear her own heart beat ; and she was 
conscious of a horrible wish that it might 
cease to beat for ever ! She turned Avith 
sickening dread from the thought of the 
future — she felt as though it would be 
impossible to endure it. Madness must 
come upon her; she never could live with 
that man during her whole life, bear his 
name, be his after all that had passed ! The 
idea was monstrous. 

She walked to a window which looked out 
upon the Square. Two or three people were 
passing along at the time, and she gazed upon 
them with a feeling of singular envy. 

" You are at peace — you pursue your quiet 

G 5 



130 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

ways," thought she ; " and perhaps there are 
hearts at home awaiting your return, whose 
love is all your blessing. You know not the 
burning torture one is enduring within these 
walls !" 

Sometimes, a doubt would come across 
her whether she could bear it, whether her 
strength would hold out under so dreadful a 
trial ; and she would pause — breathless, fear- 
ful of herself, and murmur forth a faltering 
supplication for support from above. 

Suddenly, the idea struck her that she 
might yet implore assistance from her cousin. 
It might not be too late. If Barberina would 
but be her friend, she might possibly still 
save her. Barberina's influence with the 
Duke might induce him to abandon his wicked 
and revengeful purpose. Oh! if Barberina 
would but prove her guardian-angel now... 

She flew with the speed of lightning to 
Lady Truro's door — it was fastened inside. 
She knocked, she begged aloud for admittance, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 31 

but in vain. She could hear whispers and 
footsteps, as of persons moving stealthily 
about within ; but no answer was returned to 
her reiterated inquiries. Then a terrible fear 
came across her that her cousin was w^orse — 
perhaps even dying ! Despair gave her 
strength. She pushed against the door with 
such force, that it almost yielded to her 
efforts. She implored — she screamed — for 
admittance, and at length the bolt was with- 
drawn. But it was Lord Truro himself who 
appeared in the doorway, and who, instead of 
permitting her to enter, sternly refused her 
admittance. 

'' You have already almost killed my wife," 
he said, with bitter severity, strangely unlike 
his usual manner ; " and I cannot suffer you 
to distress and agitate her further. Her life 
may possibly be the forfeit of this treachery, 
this cruel duplicity of yours. I try to for- 
give you. Go, and forgive yourself, if you 



132 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

** Let me see her," cried Evelyn, in a tone 
of anguish so acute, that even Lord Truro 
was internally moved by it, " let me see her ! 
Indeed, indeed I will grieve her no further. 
Do but let me see her !" 

** You cannot see her. Retire to your own 
room. Miss Harcourt, and there ask yourself 
the question, whether any thing could jus- 
tify you in thus sacrificing the lives and 
happiness of others to your own wild and un- 
governable passions." 

'* Hear me, Lord Truro — hear me !" cried 
Evelyn, in a voice so changed from the over- 
whelming emotion of the moment, that it 
scarcely sounded like her own ; " I entreat 
you to let me pass into that room. Do not 
refuse me ; do not turn me from her door 
now, or you will repent it — indeed you will, 
hereafter. I have loved her, oh ! how dearly ! 
and now — now...." 

She paused, and a slight convulsion passed 
over her countenance. " She is all that is 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 133 

left me in the wide world ; and, if I lose her, 
I go forth alone this very hour, wherever 
chance may direct me ; and I return to this 
house no more !" 

** I believe I am half mad as it is," she 
continued, passing her hand over her eyes, as 
if to shut out from their view some dreadful 
vision. " Make me not entirely so. Give 
me still some object to live for... Have I not 
nursed her well — faithfully? Who loves her 
as I do ?" 

*^ And if I let you enter, what assurance 
have I that you will not distress her further, 
that you will not drive her mad ? She has 
been dreadfully shocked by what has passed." 

" Fear not ; madness is only for me !" said 
Evelyn, with a strange, unearthly smile : " / 
may go mad, perhaps, but no one else. 
Hear me, Lord Truro. For Barberina's sake, 
I would do much — have done something 
already — am ready to do more ! I solemnly 
assure you that I will give myself up to her, 



134 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

to do in all things as she shall direct. 
Refuse me not ; for if you do, you may have 
more to answer for than you imagine." 

" I will not refuse you, Miss Hareourt. I 
believe you have some love for my wife, in 
spite of the cruel deception you have so un- 
expectedly practised upon her, and I will 
trust you this once. You may enter." 

In another instant Evelyn was by the bed- 
side of her cousin, wildly pressing her hands 
to her lips, and whispering assurances of ten- 
derness, which were received by a cold and 
unwilling ear. 

*' Oh, Barberina, tell me you do not utterly 
abhor me ! Do not you also turn against me ! 
Think how miserable I am : let me not lose 
youJ" 

" You have grieved me bitterly, Evelyn," 
replied her cousin, in a feeble voice. " You 
have deceived and shocked me in a way I 
can never forget. I trusted you so impli- 
citly.... But all that — disappointment, ruin, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 135 

misery, all are nothing, compared with the 
dreadful consequences that may ensue from 
what you have done. It is indeed a fearful 
thing to have to answer for a fellow- creature's 
blood !" 

" Is there no possible means of escape but 
thatOTiQ..,r 

"What means do you allude to? /know 
of none whatever. How could you now undo 
the mischief you have caused so recklessly ?... 
Unhappy girl ! think what will be your feel- 
ings if either of those men should die I — and 
what hope is there ? The Duke is the best 
shot in England." 

" Oh heavens ! — but they will not meet.... 
They must not — shall not meet !" 

*' Not meet ! — The Duke sets off for Switzer- 
land to-morrow !" 



136 EVELYN HARCOURT. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

Je demeure immobile, et mon ame abattue 
Cede au coup qui me tue .... 

CORNEILLE. 

. . . . the diamond there 
Shone like a star — the ruby flung 
Its flood of crimson light . . . o 

still — statue-like — became her lovely face. 

Guerilla Bride. 

Je crains son abord, et pour vous, et pour moi. 

COENEILLE. 

" And you here renew your solemn promise 
to be mine — to see that man no more ?" said 
the Duke, as Evelyn stood before him with a 
haggard countenance and hollow eyes — the 
effect of the agony she had undergone. 

" I have said it — torture me no further. 
Have you not before you the letter I have 
written him ? After such a letter, think you 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 137 

that I could bear to see him — bear to stand 
in his presence?" 

" I know not. But mark me, Evelyn Har- 
court : I am not one to be deceived nor trifled 
with with impunity. If you would spare the 
life of that man — if you would have him see 
long and honoured years — behold him no more, 
I counsel you. On no pretence, dare to ad- 
mit him to your presence. You will be 
watched, I warn you — a second time you 
shall not elude my vigilance. Look to it. 
My promise holds not, if you meet him again 
before the hour when I call you mine." 

"It is well — trample on the victim you 
have made. It were unlike yourself to do 
otherwise." 

'' I do not trample — I do but guard against 
a second instance of treachery on your part. 
Have you not deceived me once? — and did 
not I trust you implicitly before ? This man 
— this wretch — when he receives your letter, 
will doubtless seek you — attempt all means 



1 38 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

to obtain an interview — endeavour to try 
again the effect of that influence he has 
already found so powerful. He will write — 

entreat — supplicate how will you resist 

him ?" 

But Evelyn seemed scarcely to hear ; her 
eyes were fixed and tearless — her face pale as 
the marble statues that surrounded her, and 
almost as devoid of expression. A few hours 
of acute mental anguish may indeed do much 
to change the human countenance. And the 
misery of that long, dreary night, during 
which her eyes had never closed — who could 
describe it ? The agony of a lifetime seemed 
to her to have been concentrated in those 
few short hours : she seemed to herself to 
have lived months during the last dreadful 
night. 

Lady Truro had, as we have seen, worked 
upon her affection for herself, her fears for 
her lover, till Evelyn had become convinced 
that her duty was indeed but too plainly 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 139 

chalked out before her. She must give up 
him who was all the world to her; and 
worse — far worse — she must give him up as 
by her own free will — her own unbiassed act 
and deed. It was long before she could bring 
herself to consent to this ; but she did con- 
sent to it at last, and more like one in a 
dream than a rational being, conscious of the 
importance of the step she w^as taking. She 
copied out the rough draft Lord Truro brought 
her of a letter to Arthur Sherborne, in which 
she was made coldly and deliberately to re- 
tract her enc^aofement to him, declarinof that 
she now saw the madness of it, as well as the 
utter inexcusableness of her own breach of 
faith to the Duke, and that it was her free 
and irrevocable determination to fulfil her 
eno:ao:ement to the latter, and never to behold 
Mr. Sherborne more. She requested that he 
would make no reply to her letter, for she had 
resolved to receive and read none ; and she 
trusted he would altogether forget the folly 



140 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of her recent blameable conduct, which she 
could not remember without shame. 

Such was the letter they forced her to 
write ; and though each word seemed to im- 
press itself in burning characters upon her 
brain, not a tear was shed over it. Tears 
might have soothed her, but they would not 
come. 

She passed the night in pacing up and 
down her chamber ; her anguish seemed less 
intolerable in movement than in repose. It 
was impossible to her to rest ; and she felt as 
if from that hour she should never know rest 
•again. Sometimes she would pause at the 
open window and look out. The rain was 
pouring down in torrents — the night was dark 
and murky, and the wind blew in unusually 
fresh and chilly upon her feverish brow — but 
she heeded it not. If death would but come 
now, with *its sharp breath, how welcome 
would it be ! Oh, how she panted for death ! 

She often longed, too, to go forth, even in 



EVELYN H ARCOURT. 141 

that dreary hour, to wander away to some 
unknown spot, some unfrequented place, and 
lay her down, and take her leave of earth. It 
would be pleasant, she thought, to hurry out 
beneath the plashing rain — fast — fast — un- 
known, disregarded by all ! 

But there was still Barberina! — for Bar- 
berina's sake she would not go. She would 
watch over her, and still perform those offices 
of love which she had so long performed. 
Barberina at least would suffer from her 
loss !.... 

At times, she almost feared that her reason 
was departing. She fancied she heard strange 
sounds — voices in dispute below; yet, when 
she paused to listen, all was silent. Then 
came over her sad memories of her happy 
childhood — her bright, unclouded youth — 
thoughts of Helen and her kind parents — the 
good old man, with his silver hair — the 
gentle, motherly spirit of her who ' had de- 
parted. Perhaps even now she looked down 



142 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

with pity upon the troubled heart that had 
formerly known no sorrow — that heart which 
used to be so careless ! . . . . 

Evelyn never once lay down that night; 
and when, the next morning, at the accus- 
tomed early hour, she sought Lady Truro's 
bed-room, the nurse started back, shocked at 
the sight of her countenance, so pale, so hag- 
gard did it look — so dull and fixed the eyes, 
which a dark leaden circle surrounded. Still 
she seemed quiet and collected, proceeding to 
perform for her cousin those gentle offices 
which she was in the constant habit of ren- 
dering — making no complaint — shedding no 
tear. Occasionally a fit of abstraction would 
seem to come over her, and she would sit in 
silence for some time, till roused by an ob- 
servation or sound ; when she would start up 
all at once, and hurriedly busy herself about 
something for Lady Truro. 

Occasionally, she might be seen to take a 
letter from her bosom, open it, and then. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 143 

without giving herself a single instant to 
peruse it, fold it up again, and replace it 
there. She seemed to do this mechanically, 
— almost unconsciously — and as though her 
thoughts were far away from the scene before 
her. The same absent demeanour was visible 
in all things : she moved, she spoke, she acted 
like one in a dream. When told that the 
Duke was awaiting her in the drawing-room 
with Lord Truro, she betrayed no emotion, 
but stared around her with a vacant counte- 
nance ; and then slowly rose to go down to 
him. The sight of him, indeed, did seem to 
recal her to herself, for she shuddered and 
turned pale when he eagerly advanced to 
meet her — but in an instant she had reco- 
vered herself, and allowed him passively to 
take her hand, which was as cold as death. 

When the period of the marriage was being 
discussed by the Duke and Lord Truro, she 
listened silently, but appeared to take little 
or no interest in the matter, as though she 



144 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

were not a party concerned. She declared, 
however, that nothing should induce her to 
marry till after Lady Truro's confinement; 
but that once over, and she in a fair way of 
recovery, the wedding might take place when 
and where they thought proper — it was in- 
different to her. 

This utter apathy was more galling to the 
Duke than the most violent passion on her 
part would have been ; and he quitted her 
with feelings of irritation he could scarcely , 
suppress. Still she would be his — he had 
vanquished her proud spirit, and foiled the 
rival whom he abhorred, and that was in it- 
self a triumph beyond expression. Once his 
own, he must trust to time, and the effect of 
his own devoted attachment, to overcome her 
indifference at last. 

Her singular absence of mind, however, and 
torpid apathy continued for many days — nay, 
seemed rather to increase than diminish ; till, 
at last, even Lady Truro began to feel alarmed 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 145 

at it. But, by degrees, a change seemed to 
come over her. She would sometimes, though 
rarely, break forth into the most extravagant 
bursts of passion, during which she scarcely 
seemed to be conscious what she said or did ; 
yet, if she perceived that she were watched, 
she would gradually calm herself, and subside 
into her ordinary dreamy and unconscious de- 
meanour. Her nights were chiefly spent in 
pacing her chamber to and fro, and when she 
was so utterly exhausted that she could no 
longer drag one foot before the other, she 
would throw herself upon the floor, and there 
snatch a short interval of rest. She never 
went to bed ; and often was she awoke in the 
early morning by a sensation of numbing cold, 
and would find, to her surprise, that she had 
dropped to sleep in her chair by the open 
window. 

It was pitiful to observe the alteration that 
a fortnight had produced in her appearance ; 
she looked so wan — so haggard — so unnatu- 

VOL. II. H 



146 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

rally abstracted. The servants, struck with 
compassion, were firmly convinced that she 
was dying of a broken heart. No persuasions 
would induce her to leave the house, even for 
a walk ; she would see no one, and her time 
was spent entirely between the solitude of her 
own chamber and that of the invalid. And 
when Lady Truro found that Mr. Sherborne 
was arrived in town, she ceased any longer to 
urge her to go out. There was nothing so 
much to be dreaded as the chance of a 
meeting between the lovers ; and what means 
might he not adopt, in his despair, to procure 
one? It was not likely he would passively 
submit to such a letter as she had written 
him, without seeking at least for some ex- 
planation concerning it, especially knowing, 
as he did, what was the influence to which 
she was exposed. 

Evelyn was very strictly watched at this 
time, though she herself was hardly aware of 
it, or, rather, to speak more correctly, she was 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 147 

indifferent to it. The servants had the most 
positive orders to admit no one whatever to her 
presence, with the exception of the Duke ; and 
every letter that was directed to her was, in the 
first instance, taken to Lady Truro, who had, 
in this manner, obtained possession of two 
notes from Mr. Sherborne. The first she de- 
cided upon destroying, without even informing 
Evelyn of its arrival ; the second (as it con- 
tained nothing but a simple request for a few 
moments' interview) she thought she might 
safely show her. 

Evelyn was at first terribly excited at the 
sight of his hand ; but it needed little persua- 
sion to induce her to write the answer that 
Lady Truro dictated, refusing his request in 
the most decided manner. She had no desire 
to see him — she felt as if the sight of him 
would drive her distracted at once. She 
trembled with horror to think that he was 
arrived — actually in the same town with the 
Duke. She had always felt certain, indeed, 

H 2 



148 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

that he would come the moment it was possible 
for him to do so; but it was dreadful to 
know that he was actually there — that at any 
moment they might meet — he, who was now 
so cruelly injured, and the enemy who thirsted 
for his blood ; that a single word might bring 
on the quarrel, which must end in the death 
of one of them ! — 



" And you desire me to wear these ?" said 
Evelyn, abstractedly. 

She was standing by the Duke, with an 
open case of jewels before her. It was a 
parure of diamonds, which he had just pre- 
sented to her — family diamonds reset pur- 
posely for her, and magnificent enough to 
have ornamented the brow of a Queen ; yet 
she gazed upon them with indifference, or, 
rather, with something approaching to dis- 
gust. 

" Desire !" exclaimed her companion bit 
terly. " What a word to use with me. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 149 

Evelyn ! Will you never learn to view me 
with other feelings? What can I do — what 
strive — to obtain your love? Will nothing 
touch you ?" 

She turned as he spoke, and gazed upon 
him with a strange and almost vacant expres- 
sion. She scarcely seemed to understand his 
words. Something, however, in the melan- 
choly look of his countenance — its bitter an 
grieved expression — appeared to strike her, 
for she slightly shuddered, and, taking up the 
ecinn, said gently, and with submission — 

" I will wear them." 

And one by one she took them from their 
case — the necklace, the ear-rings, the almost 
priceless tiara — and, gazing at each wistfully 
by turns, replaced it slowly in the ecrin. 
Encouraged by this apparent attempt at in- 
terest, and not without a latent hope that her 
vanity, at least, might be flattered by the 
splendour of the jewels, the Duke gently put 
his arm around her, and, drawing her towards 



1 50 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

him, whispered tenderly, " How will my 
Evelyn's beauty be enhanced when these dia- 
monds sparkle on that lovely neck, in this 
dark hair ! You will wear them for my sake, 
love!...." 

She made no resistance — no reply; she 
still continued gazing upon them, almost like 
one in a dream. 

At that moment the door opened, and — 
Arthur Sherborne suddenly appeared ! For 
the space of a single instant, he paused on the 
threshold, contemplating the pair as they 
stood, the Duke with one arm encircling her 
waist, and she, with her beautiful head 
slightly bent forward, as though the more 
intently to examine the diamond bracelet she 
held in her hand. A slight sound — a move- 
ment on the part of Arthur Sherborne — occa- 
sioned them both to turn suddenly round. 
The horror — the agony of that instant — re- 
called Evelyn to herself! In one single 
moment, her rapid imagination had pictured 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 151 

to her Arthur Sherborne stretched before her, 
— wounded, bleeding, lifeless— his existence 
the forfeit of his love ! Then the very magni- 
tude of the danger inspired her with courage 
— power to sacrifice herself! She would step 
between him and peril. She would save him ! 

In the first instant of surprise, the Duke 
had uttered an exclamation, and made a ges- 
ture as though to spring forward, and check 
the further approach of the intruder — but 
Evelyn arrested him. Laying her hand on 
his arm, she exclaimed with eagerness, 
" Algernon ! dear Algernon, stay — " 

The astonishment occasioned by her gesture, 
and that familiar appellation, completely 
arrested the Duke. He turned towards her 
with surprise — 

" Allow me to speak to Mr. Sherborne — " 
she continued ; then, turning to him, with a 
look of ineffable dignity, she said calmly, " I 
confess, sir, you astonish me. I had thought 
my letter had been sufliciently explicit, to 



152 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

make the intrusion of jour presence both un- 
necessary and out of the question. I beg you 
will at once relieve me from it now." 

Her look — her tone — were indescribably 
haughty and commanding. Mr. Sherborne 
gazed upon her with mingled astonishment 
and indignation. 

" Is it possible ?" he cried ; " are these 
your words? Who should have made me 
believe this ? You, Evelyn — thus — " 

" I know not, sir," she continued, in the 
same cold and taunting tone, " how you have 
contrived to effect your entrance — I had 
imagined the servants understood better my 
wishes with regard to your visits. I beg, 
however, this may be the last time I may be 
called upon to blame them for disobedience on 
your account." 

By a strong effort, he checked the angry 
reply that was rising to his lips — " It shall, 
indeed, be the last," said he quietly ; " I will 
trouble you no more. I did but wish to learn 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 153 

from your own lips how it was with you — 
the truth, in short — I am more than satisfied — 
God bless you, Evelyn ! — May you be happy, 
and forgive yourself, as I do ! — Farewell !" 

And he was gone. 

The whole scene had passed so rapidly, that 
there had been no time for thought — for re- 
flection. Astonishment had absorbed all other 
feelings in the mind of the Duke — astonish- 
ment at her manner and her words — so totally 
different from what he would have expected. 
Was it possible that this intrusion had really 
excited her indignation, as she said, or was it 
only a blind to deceive him ? 

" You spoke well, my Evelyn," said he, 
after a few moments attentive examination of 
her countenance ; " I could have wished no- 
thino^ better. He will not venture here ao^ain." 

The flush that had lately overspread her 
face had now disappeared, and been suc- 
ceeded by a deadly paleness ; but her head 
was raised, and her eyes fixed like one in an 

H 5 



154 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

attitude of intense and painful attention. She 
appeared to be listening to some distant sound. 

" You need not fear his returning, love," 
said the Duke ; *' you have given him a dis- 
missal which will be effectual, I imagine. 
Insolent coxcomb — to dare to intrude him- 
self here under the circumstances ! No doubt, 
he bribed the servants. I will try and dis- 
cover who it was that presumed to admit 
him ; and get Truro to dismiss..." 

" Hush !" whispered Evelyn, turning away 
with a slight shiver ; for an instinct surer than 
the Duke's had told her that at that instant her 
lover had recrossed the threshold ; " Hush ! he 
is gone — gone..." 

" Insufferable, insolent..." 

But she laid her hand upon his arm, and, 
with a reproachful gesture, exclaimed softly, 

" Never speak ill of the... of those who are 
gone. They should be sacred." 

And, with a noiseless step, she was moving 
towards the door ; but he arrested her — 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 155 

" Evelyn — will you leave me ? Do not 
go-" 

She passed her hand across her brow — 

" I may now — may I not ?" said she ; " I 
thought — I thought it was all over — and 
that..." 

Then, with a wistful and bewildered ex- 
pression, she added — 

" I think all is not right with me at present 
— I feel so weary. Perhaps if I were to rest 
a little — but as you will — " 

A sudden remembrance of the authority he 
exercised over her seemed to recur — 

" All as you will," she repeated sadly — 

And she sat down, with a quiet resigna- 
tion, so unlike her usual manner, that even 
the Duke was touched by it. He saw her 
mind was shaken. Perhaps it might be the 
sudden shock of beholding her lover so unex- 
pectedly — at any rate, she must be humoured 
— soothed ! 

" No, dearest ; go and rest ; you do, in- 



156 EVEON HARCOURT. 

deed, look weary," he said with gentleness; 
" this man's impudent appearance has shaken 
your nerves. Go, and try to sleep. I will 
return again in a few hours, and shall hope to 
find you better. Go, sweet love — " 

As he took her hand, and pressed it to his 
lips, she seemed to be conscious she was for 
the time released. She rose ; smiled vacantly 
upon him, as he bade her farewell; — and, 
with the same quiet and submissive manner, 
slowly left the room. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 157 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

Le sommeil en ces lieux verse en vain ses pavots, 
La nuit n'a plus pour elle ni douceur, ni repos. 

CORNEILLE. 

Blood hath been shed. 

Macbeth. 

Doctor, She is troubled with thick coming fancies, 
That keep her from her rest. 
Ihid. 

.... Lean and pale 
She totters forth, wrapt in a gauzy veil, 
Out of her chamber, led by the insane 
And feeble wanderings of her fading brain. 

Shelley. 

It was midnight, and all was silent in Lady 
Truro's chamber. She herself dozed slightly ; 
and the nurse, whose business it was to watch 
beside her, wearied out with many restless 
nights, had dropped asleep on a sofa at some 
distance. The lamp was nearly extinguished, 



158 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

but every now and then the flame leaped high 
in the socket, sending forth a bright glare, 
which for the moment illumined the dark and 
dreary chamber. Lady Truro was worse ; 
but her husband, who had been absent the 
whole day, was not aware of it. 

Suddenly the bolt was softly, very softly 
withdrawn, and Evelyn glided in with noise- 
less footstep. She could not sleep ; there 
was something on her heart, in her brain, 
that prevented all repose; and she felt an 
unaccountable desire to be near the only 
being she might still love. It seemed to her 
that there was peace and protection in that 
chamber, which could not be found elsewhere. 

After gazing for a moment at the wan and 
emaciated countenance of the sleeper, and 
listening to the confused sounds which occa- 
sionally burst from her lips, as she moved 
about in her restless and feverish sleep, Evelyn 
at length sank down into a large arm-chair 
on the further side of the bed, which w^as 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 5 9 

concealed by the rich crimson curtains from 
the general view of the room ; and, folding her 
hands together, endeavoured to pray — first 
for her cousin, whose life seemed to be hang- 
ing on a mere thread — then for herself. But 
it was all in vain. Her mind was too much 
disturbed — far too preoccupied ; and her 
thoughts very soon began to wander. 

Not many moments afterwards there was a 
noise in the passage, and a sudden knock at 
the door, sufficiently loud to rouse up the 
nurse, and awaken Lady Truro with a violent 
start ; and before the former, who sprang to 
her feet in alarm, could even attempt to op- 
pose his entrance, Lord Truro appeared, evi- 
dently unusually excited, either with wine, 
or from some other cause. When his unfor- 
tunate wife, whose eyes were half blinded by 
the light he inconsiderately thrust full into 
them, perceived at last his flushed counte- 
nance and unusually bright eye, she shud- 
dered involuntarily. Poor woman ! she had 



160 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

but just before been dreaming of her own old 
home, and the time when she was yet a child, 
careless and unworldly ; and now she awoke 
to the cold and melancholy realities of her 
lot— that lot, which the world fancied was so 
happy, as well as so brilliant ! Alas, how 
little the world knows !... 

" Well, Barberina !" exclaimed Lord Truro, 
in a voice but ill suited to a sick chamber, 
" how are you to-night? — only poorly, eh?... 
Why don't you make an effort, and try to 
get over it at once ? Ton my soul, I believe 
it would make you well to be as jolly as I've 
been to-night ! Capital dinner at Castleton's. 
Chesterford, and Henry Lennard, and Euston 
Trevor, and D'Orval, and all of them, were 
there. I never enjoyed myself more." 

" Dearest Truro, don't speak quite so loud !" 
murmured poor Lady Traro, shivering in every 
fibre and nerve of her frame, and vainly en- 
deavouring to shade her eyes with her trans- 
parent hand from the glare of his candle. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 6 I 

" What! nervous as usual?. ..for ever ner- 
vous ! When will there be an end of all this ? 
— Heigho ! it's deuced hard that a man can't 
speak loud enough to be heard in his own 
house, without being accused of. . . ." 

" Her ladyship has been so very bad all 
day to-day, my lord, pleaded the nurse, who, 
in spite of her drowsiness, and the vast quan- 
tity of Port wine she had imbibed to " keep 
up her strength and sperrits," still had sense 
enough to perceive that Lord Truro had taken 
a drop too much, and feeling enough to be 
sorry for his wife : " she's been worse than 
ever ; and Dr. Locock said, that whatever we 
did, we was to be most particklar " 

" Dr. Locock.... There, there — that'll do, 
old lady !" interrupted Lord Truto, who was 
never coarse nor unfeeling, except when under 
the influence of wine. " Hold your tongue, 
do — there's a good fat old soul ! I didn't 
come here to hear about Dr. Locock, nor to 
listen to your chatter, but to see her'' — point- 



162 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

ing to his wife. " But since she can't bear 
to hear me speak," and he spoke louder than 
ever, that she might understand he was talk- 
ing at her, " I'll go back to Castleton's. Deuce 
take me, if I don't ! They're all waiting for 
me there, and I can speak in what tone I 
choose . . . . " 

" Oh no, Truro, pray !" cried his unfor- 
tunate wife, making an ineffectual attempt to 
rise and stretch forth her hands imploringly 
to him, whilst the nurse retreated to the 
other end of the room in disgust. " Do not 
leave me !...do not go ! It was very kind of 
you to come home so early ! Talk as loud 
as you please — I shan't mind it the least. — 
But don't go back there " 

And though Lady Truro felt the dreadful 
sensation of tingling behind her ears, which 
always preceded an attack of fainting, she 
struggled with her whole power against it, 
and clenched her hands with such violence, 
that the marks of her nails remained long 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 163 

afterwards upon the shrunk and pallid skin. 
Anything rather than faint now ! it was so 
seldom her husband came to see her ! — any- 
thing rather than faint now ! . . . . 

*' I must go back !" said Lord Truro, walk- 
ing up to a mirror, and surveying himself in 
it — " I promised Chest erf ord that I would. 
But I came — let me see, what did I come 
for?" 

" To sit a little time with me, Truro ! — 
Surely you will not return there to-night. It 
is late — it is.... Mrs. Dunn, is it not very 
late?" 

" A good bit past twelve, my lady," replied 
the nurse, in a tone of considerable aggra- 
vation, from the other end of the room ; " a 
very good bit past twelve, and raining a 
perfect hurricane !" 

" Oh, Truro, surely for once you will do as 
I ask you. Do stay a little while with me. 
I am better now — I am wide awake — and not 
at all nervous. When you came in first I was 



164 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

in a sound sleep, and that was why I was 
frightened at your voice. Do, do stay, 
Truro !" 

" But I tell you I can't. I am under a 
positive engagement to return, and I can't 
break my word to Chesterford, and all of 
them. They're expecting me at this very 
moment. The deuce is in you women ! — 
what a fuss and potter you do make about 
every trifle ! And, after all, I only came to 
tell you a piece of news. I know now what 
it was ! But, since you're so nervous . . . . " 

" Never mind that — never mind . . . . " 

'' A piece of news that, I suspect, will 
make you shake and shiver more than you 
ever did in your life before . . . . " 

" What! oh, what?...." 

" Why, that d — d fellow Sherborne and 
Shetland have met at last. I knew it must 
end so." 

Lady Truro, by a sudden and powerful 
effort, succeeded in raising herself in bed ; 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 165 

but almost immediately fell back again from 
weakness. 

" Met ! fought ! Truro — ^heavens ! You 
do not say so !" 

" But I do, I tell you. It seems they fell 
in with each other at the Travellers' ; and 
the Duke alluded in some way to Sherborne's 
having come here to see Evelyn, which occa- 
sioned sharp words between them. They met 
a few hours after, and, I'm sorry to say, 
that Sherborne..." 

A sudden, piercing scream arrested his 
words. There were two or three gasps for 
breath — then a dull heavy sound, as of some 
one falling — and when Lord Truro, com- 
pletely sobered by the shock, reached the 
spot whence the sounds proceeded, he found 
Evelyn stretched on the floor, in a state of 
total insensibility. 

She was carried to her bed ; and^ for some 
time, continued without any other sign of life 
than a faint and irregular breathing. But 



166 EVELYN H ARCOURT. 

at length succeeded the ravings of a delirium 
so fearful, that the very servants scarcely 
dared to enter that chamber of horror, and 
trembled as they passed near it. Frightful, 
indeed, were the visions that flitted before her 
overwrought and distempered mind — her lover 
bleeding at her feet, and turning upon her his 
reproachful eyes in the agonies of death, — 
whilst his rival, with revenge still unsated in 
his countenance, stood gazing at her, and 
mocking at her despair ! 

Sometimes she would behold Arthur Sher- 
borne stretched in his coffin, cold and insen- 
sible to her caresses, or her tears ; — sometimes 
his shadowy form would hover around her, 
pointing to its gaping wounds — and, when 
she sought to kneel and clasp him to her 
bosom, he would ever turn away from her, 
and elude her grasp. And always, in what- 
ever shape her diseased fancy pictured him, 
it was with anger in his looks, and a stern and 
reproachful expression. Sometimes her tongue 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 67 

would seem on fire, and her brain bursting — 
and ** water! water! water!" was then all 
her cry. Sometimes thousands and thousands 
of voices would seem to torment her with 
their busy whispers ; and, do what she would, 
turn which way she might, they ever pursued 
her, hunting her unceasingly, and allowing 
her no rest. Sometimes she would seem to 
hear one deep, loud, solitary cry, as of a 
being in instant fear of its life — then it would 
chano'e to the feeble wail of a new-born 
infant, neglected by its mother, and left to 
perish by the wayside — then again it would 
sink to a hoarse, mysterious whisper, warning 
her she had forfeited his love for ever — and 
then, once more it would seem to rise like the 
cry of some savage beast of prey, pursuing 
her in the wilderness, as with swift and un- 
tiring feet she fled along — and still it was 
ever there behind her ! 

Oh ! the rapid changes, the inexhaustible 
horrors, of that fearful time, when the body 



168 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

was so feeble, jet the spirit was so busy — 
when the ebbing life was still there, but 
reason — the life of the soul — had departed ! — 
She would fancy herself enclosed in her 
coffin — the inmate of the tomb — buried alive, 
jniieg — miles below the surface of the earth, 
and longing madly for light and freedom — 
her bosom weighed down by a mountain of 
lead — her temples enclosed in bands of iron — 
and she would struggle fiercely to release her- 
self, till her efforts brought on a return of 
insensibility. But, oftener than all, she would 
fancy herself already freed from earth, and 
wandering through the boundless fields of 
space, a miserable outcast from that heaven 
to which his happy spirit had ascended. And, 
as with weary wings — on — on she flew, ever 
impelled to pursue her pathless flight, strange 
and gigantic forms would pass her by, with 
mio-hty rushing pinions, threatening to over- 
whelm her, like a tempest. She longed to 
weep, but could not ; to pause, though but 



EVELYN H ARCOURT, 1 6 9 

for an instant — but no ! She must not rest : — 
on — on, she must ever go — that weary flight — 
whilst mists came rolling round, darker and 
darker — and flying serpents, with innumerable 
scaly coils, hissed in her ears ! — Still, she 
seemed to escape all dangers — on — on she 
flew — ever on ! And years passed thus — 
dreary, interminable years — and still no hope 
— no change ! Eternity before her !... 

The second night, after many hours of 
visions such as these, her strength being for 
the time exhausted, she had sunk into a fever- 
ish slumber, and the attendant who watched 
her, worn out with fatigue and exertion, 
slightly dozed also by her bedside. Suddenly, 
Evelyn awoke, with a strong conviction on 
her mind that Lady Truro's infant — a child, 
as she imagined, of several months — was in 
the act of being murdered by its nurse. With 
this impression firmly upon her, and just suf- 
ficient glimmering of reason to be aware of 
her own identity, she rose up stealthily, and, 

VOL. II. I 



1 70 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

throwing a light dressing-gown around her, 
crept to the door. All was still. It had 
just struck two, and the moon shone brightly 
through the half-open window-shutters, which 
had been unclosed to give her air during one 
of her late paroxysms. 

With a mysterious and gliding footstep, 
she passed along the open passage, marvelling 
at the unusual brightness of the house, which 
was actually illumined by the flood of radiance 
that poured down through the large skylight 
above. Any one who had met her then, 
gliding along in that melancholy and mys- 
terious light — with her long dark hair hanging 
loosely around her — her white garments, and 
her eyes sparkling with the unnatural lustre 
of insanity — might well have taken her for 
a being of another world ! 

She proceeded to the door of her cousin's 
room, softly opened it, and entered. There 
were lights there — voices — confusion ; and the 
faint and puny wail of a new-born infant met 



EVELYN ITARCOURT. 171 

her ear. She paused a moment at the thresh- 
old, surveying the scene before her, and then 
suddenly, with inexpressible violence, rushed to- 
wards the spot where the doctor and a strange 
nurse were vainly endeavouring to fan the faint 
spark of life, which was fast dying away. Lord 
Truro was standing near, intently watching 
them — his face full of eager anxiety. 

" Your child ! your child ! Barberina !" 
cried Evelyn, in a voice that nearly froze the 
blood of all who heard her. " That woman 
is killing it ! I knew it ! Something told me 
that they were murdering it, and I came to 
prevent them.. .Thank God, I am just in time ! 
Save it ! Save your child..." 

And, before any one present had time to 
consider what to do, or even to recover from 
the shock of her unexpected appearance, she 
had snatched the expiring infant from the 
arms of its horror-stricken nurse, and thrown 
it with violence upon the bed. 

The mother shrieked with inexpressible 

I 2 



172 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

terror, and caught it in her arms ; but in that 
instant the innocent spirit that had so lately 
entered upon this weary world winged its 
flight to a better ; — and it was now but a 
lifeless, tiny, effigy that she clasped to her 
bosom. 

Oh ! the horror of the scene that followed ! 
the screams of Lady Truro — the alarm and 
confusion of the attendants — the frantic vio- 
lence of Evelyn, who, with a strength that 
seemed to defy control, long resisted all attempts 
to remove her from the bedside of her cousin ! 
She was at last overcome, indeed ; but not 
till the most painful violence had been re- 
sorted to ; and, from that time, it was found 
necessary to subject her to a restraint far 
worse than had yet been adopted. 

Madness — the most horrible madness — had 
come upon her ! 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 73 



CHAPTER XXV. 

. . . the splendid host intends 
To entertain .... a select 
And numerous party of his noble friends, 
With many more by rank and fashion decked. 

Lord Byeon. 

Births, deaths, and marriages ! 
. . . O, the important budget ! 

COWPER. 

A brilliant and distinguished party (to 
borrow the words of the " Morning Post") 
were assembled at the breakfast-table at Har- 
ristone Park. 

Lord and Lady Belharris were rich, hos- 
pitable, and fond of society — good society, at 
least ; and each year, when the period of the 

G d races came round, they took care to 

fill their house with the pleasantest and most 
recherche of their London coterie. Lucky 
was the fair debutaiite, whose parents con- 



174 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

trived to obtain an invitation to Harristone 
at that season — it was no small distinction to 
be admitted there ; for it certainly implied 
distinction of some sort, either of beauty or 
talent, or position in the world. Happy was 
the good-looking young guardsman, or con- 
ceited lordling in the Blues, who found himself 
included among the pries to this most agree- 
able of all agreeable country-houses ; for at 
Harristone no one ever was bored, and no one 
ever quitted Harristone, without wishing that 
it might be their fortunate fate to be asked 
there again. At Harristone, every one might 
do as they chose — it was truly Liberty Hall. 
Every luxury, every enjoyment that wealth 
could devise, was at the command of the least 
of Lord Belharris's guests, as completely as at 
that of Lord Belharris himself. There were 
horses for those who rode ; fishing for those 
who affectioned standing up to their middles 
in water ; carriages of all sorts and kinds, for 
the sober-minded who liked to drive about 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 75 

and see the country ; and, for those who pre- 
ferred flirting to any other amusement, there 
was no want of facilities for the prosecution 
of even that fascinating pursuit. Then there 
was the great attraction of the races, which, 
as they now ranked scarcely inferior to those 
of Epsom or Ascot, was of course paramount 
— to say nothing of Lord Belharris's own 
stud, on the beauty and value of which he 
avowedly piqued himself; and the noble 
Tennis Court — and numbers of other amuse- 
ments, which would be tedious and unneces- 
sary to mention here. In short, Harristone 
was, in every sense of the word, a most de- 
lightful house to be staying at ; and its master 
as respected and popular a Lord Lieutenant, 
and carrying as much weight in his own 
country, as any shire in England could boast. 
On the morning of which we speak, many 
of the large party then in the house were, as 
has been already observed, assembled at the 
late breakfast -table. There were young and 



176 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

lovely faces, and bright eyes, well disposed 
for conquest ; and there were some of the 
best partis of the day as baits for them to 
angle for. Men " of a certain age," too, were 
there, who occupied a distinguished position 
in society, and some of them looked as if they 
did so ; whilst others, on the contrary, bore 
no slight resemblance to that race of beings 
vulgarly denominated tailors, with far less 
distinction of tone and manners than Mon- 
sieur Delmar, the elegant-looking and po- 
lished groom of the chambers, could boast. 
There were also interspersed among the party 
several pretty and agreeable young married 
women " quite the fashion," who knew how 
to command admiration,. s^/z^ trop faire parler 
d'elles ; for Lady Belharris, being in a pro- 
minent position herself, with daughters grow- 
ing up, and having been at one moment just 
glanced at suspiciously by the world, (it was 
07ilij a glance !) was a vast stickler for pro- 
prieties, and was never known to invite any 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 177 

one to Harristone, against whom a word could 
be whispered. 



" The letters are later than usual this morn- 
ing, are not they ?" said Lady Fanny Colpoys, 
whose thousfhts were with the six months 
old twins she had left behind her, not with- 
out considerable reluctance, in St. James's 
Square; but Lord Colpoys would not have 

missed the G races for the world, and 

she would not have liked him to attend them 
without her. Indeed, the ill-natured world 
did say that Lady Fanny was nearly as fond 
of races and betting as her lord ; but, whe- 
ther this were true or not, we will not pre- 
tend to determine. 

" The bag will be here immediately," said 
Lord Belharris, looking at his watch. " It 
wants exactly three minutes to the time." 

" You expect to hear of your young people, 
I suppose. Lady Fanny," said Lord Haverford- 
west. " I read anxiety in your eye." 

I 5 



178 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

"I do. It is the first time I have been 
parted from the little ones, and I am rather 
anxious..." 

" Here are the letters !" 

And Lord Belharris held up his watch to 
his assembled guests. 

'* I pique myself on their punctuality, I 
own. They are invariably to a moment. 
Lady Fanny, your maternal anxieties ought 
to be first considered. Here are no less than 
four letters for you." 

" A separate account of each child, I sup- 
pose, Lady Fanny. I hope the bulletins will 
prove favourable." 

In the mean time, Lord Belharris proceeded 
to distribute newspapers and letters to the 
rest of the party; after which ensued that 
interval of silence which generally follows 
such a distribution, broken only by occasional 
exclamations, addressed to no one in parti- 
cular, and to which, therefore, no one in par- 
ticular seemed to pay any attention. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 179 

" Dear me ! how tiresome ! Charles means 
to remain at Paris another month. Too pro- 
voking, I must say !" 

'^ I see Lady Harcourt has got another 
son !" 

" Ah ! indeed ! I am glad of it I She is a 
lovely creature." 

" Yes ; and so much improved ! I remem- 
ber the time when I did not like her at all. 
She had a pretty temper of her own, and you 
saw it in her face ! In fact, I know that she 
drove Harcourt half mad the first year of 
their marriage ! But, since their separation 
and the make up, and all that, she has been 
delightful." 

"Ah! Stewart has left the Guards! I 
thought Lady Catherine would persuade him 
to do so ! And Clifford gets his rank ! 
deuced lucky, indeed !" 

" Well, I'm glad of it. He's a very nice 
person, that Captain Clifford." 

" Colonel Clifford now !" 



180 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" Let me see — how many years has he been 
in the regiment ? Belharris, have you an 
army list ?" 

*' What will the Government do about that 
Liverpool business, I wonder ? — hush it up, 
somehow or other, I dare say ! — too bad, 
upon my honour, if they do..." 

" The paper says that Lady Montgomery and 
Lady Susan are gone to Paris. How beauti- 
ful she is still !" 

"Which? the mother or the daughter?" 

" Both : but / prefer the mother. There 
is something in Lady Montgomery's counte- 
nance that is perfectly angelic — a softness — a 

purity And she looks so young still ! One 

can't believe that great fellow Montgomery is 
her son." 

'' She looks melancholy, too, I always think. 
She has never got over Clavering's death — " 

" My dear Caroline, I'm glad to say Castle- 
ton and Albert Runnington come down this 
evening." 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 8 1 

" Oh, I am glad of that — I thought they 
would, if it was anyhow possible !" 

By degrees, the general conversation began 
to be resumed ; letters were slowly folded up, 
and those who had made themselves masters 
of whatever was interesting to themselves 
could once more attend to the general busi- 
ness of the breakfast-table and the concerns 
of their neighbours. 

"Any news, Mr. Trevor?" inquired Lady 
Fanny, who observed that gentleman closing 
an epistle, which seemed to be crossed and re- 
crossed to an alarming extent, in a feminine 
hand. 

" Yes ; — one piece of news that shocks me 
a good deal, I confess — " 

" Dear me ! you don't say so. . . .?" 

" What is it— what is it ? " 

" Oh, Mr. Trevor, you always contrive to 
hear things before any one else — " 

And every eye was immediately turned 
upon Mr. Euston Trevor ! This was precisely 



189 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

what he liked. He was a man who had not 
blushed nor changed countenance twice in his 
life ; — it was altogether contrary to his prin- 
ciples to do so. He now took three lumps of 
sugar, put them one by one into his coffee, 
and then deliberately tasted it. When he 
judged that suspense had sufficiently sharp- 
ened the general curiosity, he looked up 
again and sighed. 

"It is a piece of news that certainly is 
shocking ; and I fancy you will all agree with 
me in thinking it so. There has been a 
duel!" 

"A duel? good gracious!" 

" Bless me, a duel !" 

" Between whom ? between whom ?" 

" Between Shetland and Arthur Sherborne. 
From what I had heard, I must say I am not 
at all surprised at it." 

" You don't say so ! The Duke! and is he...." 

" He was hit in the side and arm ; wounded 
severely, but they hope not dangerously. He 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 183 

must lose his arm, however Sherborne had 

to be off immediately." 

" Oh, how dreadful !" 

" And I suppose it was all about Evelyn 
Harcourt !" said Lord Haverfordwest, whose 
face had become unusually pale during this 
conversation. 

" Yes, of course. It seems that Sherborne 
made an attempt to see her. They met lately 
in Italy, you know ; and, from what I can 
learn from undoubted authority, she is despe- 
rately attached to him." 

** Well, now, that is singular, for I declare 
I always thought she rather fancied him, my- 
self," observed Lady Fanny ; " but, of course, 
when I heard of her engagement to the Duke, 
I took it for granted . . . . " 

" Oh, that was a made up thing, completely. 
Lady Truro persuaded her into it — actually 
forced her to accept him. Depend upon it, 
she was desperately in love with Sherborne all 
the time — I know it for a fact." 



184 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" You were sajiiig he tried to see her. . . ." 

" Well, he did ; and, of course, Shetland 
couldn't stand that, within a week or two of 
his marriage, you know — so he ordered him 
out of the house...." 

" Good gracious ! and then Mr. Sherborne 
called hira out ?" 

" No ; I rather think Shetland sent the 
challenge, but I'm not positive about that. 
The long and the short of the matter, however, 
is, that they fought." 

" Well, Miss Harcourt deserves to lose him 
after such deceitful conduct, I must say," ob- 
served the pretty Miss Grey, of Grey; — '*I 
only hope and trust he will have too much 
sense to marry her now." 

'*I hope so too!" replied Lord Haverford- 
west, with considerable emphasis. Then, in a 
low voice he added, to Miss Grey, " I assure 
you, that girl is the greatest coquette in Eng- 
land. She made up to me desperately, at one 
time, till Shetland took it into his head to pay 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 185 

her attention, and then — good bye, not a word, 
not a look, could I get — " 

"I'm not surprised," was Fanny Grey's 
reply ; " I always thought her a great flirt, 
and altogether a strange sort of girl " 

"But magnificently beautiful, one must 
confess — I never saw such beauty ! the most 
perfect features, and such Asiatic eyes !" 

" Well, I don't know, I don't like those 
magnificent people. Give me something 
pretty, and feminine, and winning !" 

And Fanny Grey endeavoured with all her 
might to look all three in the eyes of Lord 
Haverfordwest. 

" And how does poor Miss Harcourt bear 
this calamity ?" inquired Lady Belharris ; " I 
saw a great deal of her at one time, and I 
confess I thought her particularly unaffected 
and amiable. Her talents are extraordinary 
— really, quite extraordinary. She improvises, 
you know, in the most wonderful manner, both 
poetry and music. Quite another Corinne !" 



186 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" I have heard so." 

" Well, I confess," observed the old Duchess 
of Caithness, leaning back in her chair v^ith 
dignity, and looking pompously around her, 
as though to give greater effect to her words, 
" I should be very sorry to have a daughter 
of mine do anything of the kind. Excuse me, 
my dear Lady Belharris, but those out-of-the- 
way geniuses never come to any good. I as- 
sure you that is the result of my experience." 

And the Duchess accompanied the result of 
her experience with a little short, dry, sar- 
donic laugh, as much as to say, she challenged 
any one present to assert the contrary — but 
the idea of their doing so was of course too 
preposterous — utterly absurd — and illustrated 
her remark by glancing at her own stiff, sandy- 
haired daughter, Lady Sarah Stewart, who 
looked as though she had been brought up 
with a perpetual back-board, and who, al- 
thouo^h she owed both education and accom- 
plishments to one of the strictest and most 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 187 

expensive of English governesses, (the whole 
being, consequently, of purely British manu- 
facture) and had devoted at least five hours a 
day for the last nine years to the practice of 
music, was still utterly incapable of falling 
into the dangerous error of improviseing, or 
any other such Corinne-like propensity, she 
being infinitely less remarkable for the height 
of her genius than for that of her birth and 
cheek-bones. 

" Evelyn Harcourt was natural enough, too, 
when I knew her," observed Lady Belharris. 
'' There was nothing about her that was ob- 
jectionable then, and I must say I never saw 
a girl less disposed to flirting in my life." 

" Oh ! if she is a friend of yours, I have 
nothing more to say, my dear Lady Belharris. 
No doubt, it is all right — improviseing and 
all !" 

" But how does she comport herself under 
this catastrophe of her own occasioning, Mr. 
Trevor?" 



188 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" That is the shocking part of the story, I 
think. Ever since the event of the duel, she 
has been mad — quite mad !" 

" Irrecoverably so V 

" I'm told, quite irrecoverably ; in fact, she 
is in confinement." 

" Oh, that is too dreadful !" cried Lady 
Belharris, with real feeling. " Poor Evelyn 
Harcourt ! so young — so lovely !....How very 
sad ! But I do trust your information may 
be exaggerated, Mr. Trevor !" 

" I fear that, on the contrary, it is but too 
correct. I should not wonder if the whole 
particulars were in the paper in a few days. 
From what I can learn, there is no attempt 
at concealment." 

" I really never heard of anything so 
shocking !" 

" At her age — so very, very young...." 

" And Lady Truro is confined...." 

" Oh, at last, poor thing ! Really ! Why, 
it is not in the papers, Mr. Trevor ! How 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 189 

do you contrive to learn everything so 
soon ?" 

" And pray what is it ?" 

" Beau, my love I" said Lady Belharris, at 
this particular juncture to her little daughter 
of ten, " you may go now to Ma'mselle Pages. 
No doubt she is waiting for you !" 

" It was a boy ; but it only lived an hour 
or two, and she has been dreadfully ill herself 
ever since. There is not the least chance for 
her, Locock says. By this time, it is probably 
all over !" 

Mr. Trevor's countenance had never under- 
gone the slightest change whilst relating this 
series of horrors. He had continued quietly 
eating his pate de foie gras, and occasionally 
helping himself to butter or marmalade, whilst 
announcing the madness of Evelyn, the death 
of Lady Truro's infant, and the hopeless con- 
dition of that lady herself? But then Mr. 
Trevor was qidfe a man of the world ! 

" What a lesson for Truro, after the way 



190 EVELYN HAKCOURT. 

in which he has treated her !" observed some 
one. 

" Well, it is all very sad — verj sad indeed !" 
said Lady Belharris, rising to go ; '* and I 
must say I feel for that poor girl whom I 
used to know ! Dear Duchess, would you 
like to come into the conservatory for a few 
minutes before you get ready ?" 

" With pleasure," replied the Duchess ; and 
as she sailed out of the room she added, with 
an air of conscious superiority, " I assure 
you what we have heard does not at all sur- 
prise me. It quite coincides with my expe- 
rience. I should be very sorry to have a 
daughter of mine a great genius. I always 
said so." 

" Well, such is life !" was the philosophic 
remark of Lord Belharris, as he laid down the 
newspaper. " Truro will be a good deal cut 
up at first, I dare say ; but it maij sober 
him. — Mersey, Haverfordwest, Trevor, what 
say you to a game at billiards before we 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 9 1 

start ? We have time before the horses come 
round ?" 

And in a short time this tale of touching 
and melancholy interest was as completely 
forgotten at Harristone as though it had never 
been told. The gentlemen were soon deeply 
immersed in their billiards and their bettinsr- 
books, and the ladies in preparations for the 
races, or eager anticipations of conquests and 
flirtations during the ensuing brilliant festivi- 
ties. Presently, carriages of every description, 
bearing the Belharris arms, and headed by her 
ladyship's britzska, with its postillions and 
outriders, began to congregate round the 
front entrance, whilst horses innumerable 
made their appearance from the stables, for 
the service of those who preferred a pleasant 
canter over the downs to the longer and more 
dusty high road. Nothing could be gayer or 
more animated than the whole scene. The 
day was fine, the sky clear, and there was 
just enough of a breeze to make it pleasant. 



192 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

without endangering the beauty of the ladies' 
bonnets. Every face was smiling — every 
heart was light ; even the very servants were 
full of gaiety and animation. In short, plea- 
sure was the order of the day — pleasure un- 
alloyed by the thought of others' pain ! 

Such indeed, as Lord Belharris truly ob- 
served, such is life ! Laughter and revelling 
in one house — Death and desolation in an- 
other ! 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 193 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

She looked on many a face with vacant eye, 
On many a token, v^ithout knowing what ; 
She saw them watch her without asking why, 
And recked not who around her pillow sat. 

Lord Byron. 

A light broke in upon my brain, 
The sweetest song ear ever heard, 
And then by dull degrees came back 
My senses to their wonted track. 

Prisoner of Chillon. 

I must now introduce my readers to one of 
those melancholy abodes in the vicinity of 
London, of which there are, alas, so many — 
the haunts of the mentally afflicted. 

The one to which I allude was really what 
it professed to be, *' an inviting and tranquil 
retreat," surrounded by trees, and enclosed 
in pleasant lawns and gardens. Nothing was 
wanting there that could minister to minds 

VOL. II. K 



194 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

diseased, or soothe the irritated nerves of the 
unfortunate inmates. The house was com- 
modious and airy, the prospect from the win- 
dows most inviting ; and a large piece of water 
near, on which was a pleasure-boat, gave 
variety to the scene, as well as to the amuse- 
ments of the occupants of the mansion. 

But, though a casual observer might have 
paused in admiration at the loveliness and 
apparent tranquillity of this spot, yet, when 
once its real character was known, there were 
many trifling circumstances about it that 
painfully reminded one of its real purpose. 
The gigantic wall, spiked at the top; the 
bars at every window ; and, above all, an in- 
definable air of gloom and desertion, told that 
here there was no freedom, nor joyous mirth, 
nor home association. All was formal — cold 
— constrained ; the very flower-beds looked 
prim — the very gardeners moved about with 
stealthy footsteps ; and ever and anon a stifled 
shriek, the loud clapping of doors, or voices 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 195 ^ 

in confusion within, would cause the passer- 
by to tremble, and gaze up with an eye of 
pity and terror at the lonely madhouse. 

It was in a darkened room in this asylum 
that poor Evelyn now lay, the very shadow 
of her former self. Here she had passed 
many a weary day and night, unconscious of 
all but that she suffered. She had indeed 
drained the bitter cup of misery to the dregs 
— she had gone through every variety of 
mental alienation, from the most violent 
paroxysms of fury, during which the strait 
waistcoat had been of necessity resorted to, 
to what was even more melancholy, the 
deepest kind of passive dejection. Up to 
this time, no one lucid interval, no single 
ray of light, had broken in upon her 
darkened intellect ; she seemed doomed to 
irrecoverable madness. 

She had been removed to this place by 

Lord Truro, at the instigation of Dr. L , 

who from the first had taken an unfavourable 

K 2 



196 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

view of her case. Her remaining in Grosvenor 
Square had been out of the question, both on 
her own account and that of Lady Truro, to 
whom the knowledge of her sad condition, 
which it had been impossible to conceal from 
her, had already been most injurious. And 
when at last Lady Truro's wonderful consti- 
tution, contrary to the expectation of all, 
had enabled her to rally, and she actually 
made advances towards recovery, she was the 
first to rejoice at the removal of Evelyn, 
whose shrieks and moans, heard through every 
part of the house, were amongst the most 
painful of the recollections connected with that 
weary time. She felt sorry — indeed, grieved 
for her; — and she even went so far as to 
shed a few tears, when informed of the melan- 
choly state to which she was reduced ; — but 
her chief feeling was one of thankfulness at 
her removal — satisfaction at not beino^ called 
upon to witness, day by day, the horrible 
spectacle of her insanity. She begged Lord 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 1 97 

Truro to do all that was right — to see that 
every care, every attention, were paid her; 
but more than that, she had no desire to do. 
For worlds, she would not have beheld again 
the poor victim of her own selfish ambition. 
Never could she forget the last time when she 
had beheld her — the unearthly expression of 
her countenance on the night of her child's 
death ! That fearful look, she believed, would 
haunt her to her grave. 

In the mean time, the Duke was slowly re- 
covering from the effects of his wounds, 
which had been treated with such consummate 

skill by Sir B B , that it had not 

been even necessary to amputate his arm. 
Mr. Sherborne had left England immediately 
after the duel, and was now said to be tra- 
velling in Africa ; — but nothing certain was 
known respecting him. 

It was not long before the gay and fash- 
ionable world was excited by a new piece of 
intelligence, which formed a fitting finale to 



198 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

the painful drama that had already been 
enacted in Grosvenor Square; — Lord Truro 
was a ruined man, and forced to go imme- 
diately abroad. It took few people by sur- 
prise ; and his wife least of all. She had always 
felt sure the esclandre must come sooner or 
later. It might have been averted, indeed, 
for a time, by the sacrifice of Evelyn ; — but, 
even then, who could assure her that, as he 
had once broken the most solemn promises, 
he misrht not break them attain ! There was 
no faith to be placed in the protestations of a 
gambler. 

She did as she had always done on every 
occasion through life — she made the best of 
it. She bore the loss of all — house, furniture, 
riches, fashionable distinction at home — and 
she bore it all without a murmur, and pre- 
pared to set out, almost unattended, to join 
her husband on the continent ; hoping, by her 
patience under the adversity he had brought 
upon them, and her gentle devotion to him- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 19,9 

self, to win him over yet to be something more 
to her than he had ever hitherto been. 

There was certainly some good in Lady 
Truro. 

The house in Grosvenor Square, with its 
magnificent decorations, which alone had cost 
some thousands of pounds, its exquisite fur- 
niture, rare marqiieterie, unrivalled china, and 
valuable pictures, was sold by auction ; and 
many of those who had frequented those 
brilliant salons, had now an opportunity of 
moralizing over the transitory nature of all 
earthly possessions, whilst, at the same time, 
they added to their own collection at home 
some exquisite ornament they had formerly 
coveted, or some unique article of vertu, for 
less than one third of its original cost. 

Lady Truro had written to Mr. Eridge, in 
Canada, informing him of the sad events that 
had occurred, and of poor Evelyn's forlorn 
and hopeless condition ; — and she had en- 
treated that he would either return himself to 



200 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

England, and decide what should be done 
with her, or appoint some other competent 
person to do so, and to superintend her future 
management, as she herself was on the point 
of departure for the continent ; and it was of 
course impossible that, out of the miserable 
pittance on which she and her husband must 
henceforward support themselves, they could 
do any thing towards defraying the heavy ex- 
penses necessarily incurred by Evelyn in her 
present abode. It was not till after she had 
written and despatched this communication, 
that she discovered, amongst a packet of un- 
opened letters of Evelyn's, which had been 
thrown aside at the commencement of her 
illness, one from Mr. Eridge, announcing the 
melancholy death of poor Frederic Percy at 
Montreal, and the premature birth, almost im- 
mediately after, of Helen's infant — a delicate 
boy, which, however, in spite of the sorrow 
and sufFerinsr which had hastened its own 
entrance into this weary world, seemed yet 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 201 

not unlikely to continue in it. From this 
letter, it was evident that Mr. Bridge and his 
grand-daughter would, ere long, be in Eng- 
land ; — and Lady Truro, having written once 
more to them at New York to hasten if pos- 
sible their return, quitted London herself, 
without being able to summon courage even 
so much as to see the unfortunate girl, whose 
only fault, if fault it could be called, had 
been to love her too devotedly, and for her 
sake to have been willing to give up all. 

Evelyn was now friendless and alone. Not 
one being who had ever loved her was near, 
to whisper words of soothing in her ears, to 
recal to her wandering mind one old familiar 
recollection. She, who had been the admi- 
ration of all hearts, the cynosure of all eyes — 
she, the beautiful, the worshipped — had not 
now one friend to raise a voice in her behalf, 
to stand between her and cruelty, had cruelty 
been attempted. But Dr. A — was a humane 
and conscientious man, admirably adapted to 

K 5 



202 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

the office he so ably filled. All possible care 
was taken of her — every thing was done that 
skill and pity could suggest, though all with- 
out avail. And she knew not that she was 
alone among strangers — all forms, all voices, 
were to her alike. 

It was one day, about noon, that, after one 
of the fits of excitement which were now 
becoming somewhat less frequent, she was 
lying with closed eyes, as was her wont — 
exhausted, broken, helpless, moaning at in- 
tervals with a weary sense of pain — that the 
door of the chamber opened gently, and Dr. 
A — appeared, followed by a lady in widow's 
mourning. He approached the bedside, and 
after a short conversation with the attendant, 
who never quitted Evelyn, bent down, and 
took her unresisting hand. After a few mo- 
ments of close attention to her pulse and 
breathing, he turned to Helen Percy, for my 
readers will have guessed that it was no other 
than she. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 203 

*' You may safely remain here now," he 
said. *' There is no danger of any relapse at 
present." 

" And may I speak to her? May I try to 
recal her recollection ? May I allow her to 
see me ?" 

Dr. A — smiled sadly. 

" There is no chance of her recognising 
you, my dear young lady. No, no ! — You 
must prepare yourself for what will shock 
you — try your nerves. But you tell me you 
are prepared." 

" Oh, yes ! — for anything, however shocking, 
if I may only be allowed to remain with her." 

"We shall see; — we shall judge what 
effect your presence produces. I wish it may 
occasion any ; but my hopes are small. It 
is a bad case." 

Helen turned away, and struggled hard 
against the blinding tears which the sight of 
that wan, weary countenance produced. She 
could scarcely believe it was Evelyn. 



204 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" Try all means — I give you full permis- 
sion at present," said Dr. A — , as lie turned 
to go. 

" Talk to her — endeavour to rouse any re- 
collection ; — her childhood — those she loved 
— any impression that formerly had weight — 
you may try all ! There is no danger of vio- 
lence now ; and if there were, Fen wick," 
turning to the attendant, " knows what to 
do, and would apprise me, if you desired it. 
Farewell ! I heartily wish you success." And 
he left the room. 

For some moments Helen stood there — 
motionless, silent — gazing, with something 
approaching to awe, upon that soulless, va- 
cant countenance, which till now had never 
been to her otherwise than full of lidit and 
inspiration. At length, overcome by feelings 
it was impossible to control, she threw her- 
self down by the bedside, and, hiding her face 
in the clothes, burst into a passion of tears. 
Oh, what tears ! they even wrung the heart 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 205 

of the woman who stood there, accustomed as 
she was to sights and sounds of agony. 

Helen had suffered sadly since we parted 
from her. She too was changed ; but hers 
had been a sorrow that, unlike Evelyn's, had 
raised instead of crushing her spirit. Evelyn's 
insanity had been from the death of all hope. 
Helen's hope was higher than ever — it rested 
in the skies. There had she garnered up her 
heart — there might she hope to meet one day 
him she had lost. 

And as she knelt now by the bedside, she 
uttered one short fervent prayer for Evelyn — 
Evelyn, who could no longer pray for herself. 
She prayed too for strength and courage to 
persevere in the task of love she had under- 
taken ; and w^hen she rose, it was with a feel- 
ing of peace and joy in the confidence those 
prayers had given her, which made her ready 
to endure all. 

She entered into conversation with the 
attendant, an intelligent and trustworthy 



206 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

person, whose experience in such melancholy 
cases was great ; and endeavoured to learn 
from her the modes of treatment necessary in 
the various changes of Evelyn's fearful malady. 

" You must teach me how you manage 
her," said she. " Dr. A — has kindly per- 
mitted me to stay here as long as I like, and 
so you must not be vexed to see me usurp 
your place. I want to do everything for her, 
just as you do." 

The woman smiled. 

** Ah, ma'am, you don't know what you 
undertake," said she ; " these are not sights 
for such as you to be living constantly 
amongst ; they're bad enough, even for one 
like me, accustomed as I am to them. But 
you would soon lose your spirits, and your 
health too." 

" I care not if I do — I care not if I do." 

" Well, well, you shall please yourself, 
ma'am ! and I will willingly show you all 
I can." 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 207 

From that day Helen took up her abode in 
that drearv chamber, and with an earnest and 
unshrinking purpose devoted herself to the 
melancholy duties she had voluntarily under- 
taken. Her grandfather had hired a small 
lodging not far off, for himself and her infant, 
that she might, at least, have the comfort of 
seeing them both daily ; but, excepting for 
this purpose, she never quitted Evelyn, per- 
forming for her, untiringly, every office which 
had hitherto been rendered by a hireling. 
Dr. A — was unremitting in his attentions. 
He paid frequent visits to the sick room, as 
much for the purpose of endeavouring to draw 
Helen away from it for a time, as for that of 
watching the progress of the invalid. But 
Helen was not to be seduced from that labour 
of love, even for the sake of her own health. 
There was her duty — there her heart ; and 
not for a moment would she unnecessarily 
absent herself from the helpless being, who 
was still unconscious of her care. 



208 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

She had been cruelly disappointed the first 
day to find, notwithstanding all her efforts, 
not the slightest symptom of recognition on 
the part of Evelyn. In spite of Dr. A — 's 
warning, she had fondly hoped that the sound 
of her voice, which had not been heard for so 
long, might fall upon her ear like an old 
familiar sound, and recal some dim remem- 
brance of the past. She had fondly hoped 
that Evelyn never could resist her expfessions 
of endearment, her words of tenderness — that 
she must recognise her. — Alas ! . . . . 

It was bitter to weep such tears as Helen 
shed, and feel there was no need to hide 
them, for they called forth no corresponding 
emotion in her for whom they fell ; — to use 
every epithet of tenderness, every term of 
childish endearment, and see no sign, re- 
ceive no reply. It was still worse to hear the 
attendant speak of her, and describe her 
symptoms, as they had varied day by day, as 
though she were not lying there alive, and in 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 209 

their presence. Sometimes, Helen would steal 
a glance towards the bed, almost expecting 
to see her rise up and answer them ; but, no ! 
there she lay, her eyes closed — never a move- 
ment nor a sign ! 

Still Dr. A and Fenwick told her 

there was an improvement — slight indeed, but 
still an improvement. There had been less 
irritation the last two days — less fever, more 
inclination to repose — and with that she 
must be content. And, as each day passed 
by, it seemed rather to confirm than lessen 
this improvement. Under the tender care, 
the gentle caresses and affectionate words of 
Helen, poor Evelyn appeared somewhat to 
revive. She would suffer herself to be fed by 
her without the terrible struggles that till 
now had generally taken place. It seemed 
as though a kind of instinct, an innate per- 
ception, told her that there was one near who 
watched her with a sister's love, and, under 
the influence of that love — felt, although un- 



210 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

known — she was calmed. Dr. A ex- 
pressed himself well pleased; the elFect of 
Helen's presence had been decidedly soothing 
and beneficial. She had already begun to 
exercise something like control over his pa- 
tient. Still, there was no return of con- 
sciousness. 

Mr. Eridge had been allowed to see her ; 
he had been urgent to be permitted to do so ; 
and, much as Helen objected to it on his own 
account — for she knew how much it would 
affect him — there was no reasonable excuse 
for preventing it. No one could pretend to 
fear the agitation for Evelyn, to whom all 
faces were alike. He came, therefore; and 
it was a touching sight to behold that old 
man, with his bent form and silver hair, wiping 
away the few tears that trickled slowly down 
his furrowed cheeks, as he gazed wistfully 
upon the child of his adoption — the stricken 
being he remembered once so joyous. And 
when, with a faltering voice, he exclaimed, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 2 1 1 

gently stroking the poor, thin hand he held 
in his — '' What ! don't you know me, my 
dear ? — not know your poor old grandfather ?" 
...and there was no sign, no sound, in return 
— but there she lay, immoveable — with closed 
eyes — Helen's heart died away within her, 
and she feared indeed that there was no hope. 
Evelyn was not always silent, however. 
She would speak ; but words without ap- 
parent meaning — confused expressions of 
images that flitted across her distempered 
fancy ; or she would rave of sights and sounds 
of horror, and moan as though in agony of 
spirit ; or, oftener still, she would murmur 
indistinct sounds — allusions to persons and 
objects she had formerly loved. Helen's 
name was not unfrequently on her lips, but 
Arthur's far more often. When she spoke 
of him, however, it was with an expression of 
despair and anguish not to be mistaken. 
Horror was connected in her mind with him — 
horror of some dreadful, nameless kind ! 



212 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

That impression even her madness had not 
been able to overcome. 

One night, Helen, who slept on a sofa at 
the foot of her bed, was awakened suddenly 
by an abrupt and uneasy movement on her 
part. She was up and at her side in a mo- 
ment. Evelyn had turned towards her, and, 
contrary to her usual habit, was lying with 
her eyes open. The room was partially 
lighted ; for a small lamp burnt near the bed- 
side, which enabled Helen to see her dis- 
tinctly. She could even perceive the dull 
and vacant expression of those magnificent 
eyes, which formerly had been so full of genius 
and fire. She began, as usual, to speak to her 
in a low, soothing voice, much as a nurse 
would speak to a sick and refractory child. 

" Dearest, are you thirsty ? Did you want 
to drink ? Wait a minute, and I will bring you 
something. Yes, Helen will bring it directly." 

She paused, and held her breath — arrested 
as if by magic ! There had been something 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 213 

like a slight shudder, and Evelyn had raised 
her head almost imperceptibly in the attitude 
of one listeninor. For a minute or two after- 
wards, Helen's breath came so quick, that she 
felt as if it would choke her; but she re- 
covered herself, and continued, in a soothing 
voice — " Evelyn, dearest Evelyn, it is I ; 
your own Helen. I am come back to you 
once more." 

Evelyn raised her head almost off the pillow 
— but she instantly fell back again, exhausted 
with the effort. 

There was a pause ; — during which Helen 
offered up an earnest, internal prayer to be 
directed aright, that she might, by no injudi- 
cious word, no premature excitement, ex- 
tinguish the faint spark of returning reason, 
which she hoped — oh ! how fondly ! — had at 
length been rekindled. She sat down on the 
bed ; and, taking the hand of Evelyn within 
her own, began, in a low, clear voice, to sing 
an air of which she had always been passion- 



2 1 4 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

atelj fond. It was one that Evelyn had often 
sung to Arthur Sherborne in the happy days 
of their first acquaintance in Grosvenor 
Square ; and the words, which were exqui- 
sitely beautiful, had been composed by hira. 
She had known and loved this song for years 
— lonsf before she had ever beheld Mr. Sher- 
borne she had been wont to sing it, and often 
had her tears been called forth by the touch- 
ing beauty of the words. Need it be told 
how dear it became when more immediately 
connected with the memory of him and of 
the days they had passed together ? 

As the soft sweet notes of that well-remem- 
bered air fell upon her ears, suddenly dim 
memories of the past began to be awakened ; 
the right chord was touched. — A thick, im- 
penetrable mist seemed to roll away from 

before her she trembled violently, and 

pressed her hands together. 

" Arthur !" she murmured, faintly, " Ar- 
thur... is that you... ?" 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 215 

They were the first wm^dsl 

Joy, joy for Helen ! unutterable joy ! In 
the excess of her rapture, she kissed Evelyn's 
hands, her face, her eyes, again and again ! 
She threw herself on her knees, and mur- 
mured thanks to Heaven. 

"No, dearest," she cried at length, whilst 
her tears fell fast, " not Arthur, but Helen — 
your own Helen. I am here beside you. 
You are safe with me — I will watch over you 
— I will never leave you." 

"Ah!..." 

" Shall I sing that song again ? We al- 
ways loved it so — do you remember ? — his 
words — your Arthur's ! — and who ever wrote 
like him?" 

" Arthur.. .ah, yes..." 

Once more, Helen raised her trembling 
voice ; and, as she watched that countenance, 
it seemed to her as if each moment the light 
of reason poured in its radiant flood more 
strongly. There could no longer be a doubt 



2 1 6 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

of it ! Oh ! that this happy, blessed change 
might but last!... 

" Helen !" murmured Evelyn, a few mo- 
ments after, turning uneasily in her bed, 
" how is it — where is — I cannot remember — " 

'* You have been ill — very ill, love ! — no 
wonder you are confused. But you are 
better now, thank God ! and I have come to 
nurse you." 

'* But I cannot see you, Helen. Is it 
night?..." 

" Yes, but the morning will soon come. 
Shall I stay by you ? I am here — I see 
you." 

" Where — where are you ?" 

Alas ! her mind must be wandering again. 

Helen took up the lamp which stood near, 
and held it so as to turn the light full upon 
herself. 

" Now you see me, love...." 

" I see nothing but black, dark night." 

Suddenly, the attendant, who had hitherto 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 2 I 7 

been silent, though attentively watching them, 
stepped forward, and, touching Helen on the 
shoulder, took the lamp from her hand and 
passed it rapidly several times backwards 
and forwards before Evelyn's eyes. The eye- 
lids never winked, nor closed — the pupils 
never dilated — the eyes remained wide open 
— staring with lacklustre gaze at the light. 

Then the truth suddenly burst upon Helen— 

She was blind ! 



VOL. II. 



218 EVELYN HARCOURT, 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

. . changeable, longing and liking ; fantastical, shallow, 
inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles ; for every passion 
something, and for no passion truly anything. 

Js You Like It. 

She speaks an infinite deal of nothing. 

Merchant of Venice. 

And ceremoniously let us prepare 
Some welcome for the master of the house. 

Ibid. 

Most goddess-like pranked up. 

Winter's Tale. 

Mrs. Harry Eridge had not improved since 
we parted from her ; she had grown neither 
less singular nor less absurd. Much of her 
time had been spent at Oriel, where her con- 
duct had been altogether so extraordinary as 
to occasion a strong conviction in the neigh- 
bourhood that she was out of her senses. Mr. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 219 

Bridge bad left her no share whatever in the 
management of the property ; — indeed it had 
been entrusted to the exclusive care of an old 
and faithful steward, who was instructed to 
manage it without the smallest reference to 
her in any way — and on no account to allow 
of any interference on her part. It was for- 
tunate this arrangement had been made, other- 
wise, Mr. Bridge might have stood a fair chance 
of finding something like ruin awaiting him 
on his return ; but he had learned by this 
time to know the disposition of his daughter- 
in-law, and to be aware that the less he left 
to her discretion the better. 

Her daughters were remarkable proofs how 
sweet sometimes " are the uses of adversity." 
Accustomed from their earliest childhood to 
suffer in silence, they had learned gentleness 
and forbearance from the continual endurance 
of the contrary qualities in their mother. 
Nothing could exceed their amiability. Miser- 
able as were their own lives, their whole object 

L 2 



220 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

seemed to be to soften the effect of her aspe- 
rities upon others, and explain away her eccen- 
tricities. They were forced indeed, upon many 
occasions, to give in to her strange whims, for 
she exacted from them the most implicit obedi- 
ence, although continually complaining that 
they disregarded her wishes, and disobeyed her 
positive directions; and they were often com- 
pelled, in doing so, to act with apparent rudeness 
or unkindness to others. But no one could look 
at their gentle countenances, and imagine for 
a moment that they meant to be unkind to 
any human being. They had felt the death 
of their uncle most keenly. He had been to 
them a kind of parent, and often had he stood 
between them and the caprice or violence of 
their mother, over whom he exercised a far 
greater control than did any other person. 
To them, therefore, the news of his death had 
come with stunning violence ; and bitterly and 
deeply was he mourned by those two friendless 
girls. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 221 

Mrs. Harry, too, had felt his loss at first, 
for she was not altogether without heart ; — 
but, as her real sorrow diminished, she began 
to think more of the manifestation of it, and 
to imagine and contrive the most absurd 
methods of publicly expressing it, and testify- 
ing her respect for the memory of " le clier 
defuntr For more than a fortnight, she per- 
sisted in wearing nothing but a species of 
wrapper, made of what she was pleased to call 
sackcloth, but which was in reality the rough 
ticken used to cover waggons and packages 
with. She made her daughters collect hand- 
fuls of ashes from the grates, and plentifully 
besprinkle her wig therewith. She refused all 
kinds of animal food, and for two whole days 
existed on bread and water. But, finding this 
spare diet somewhat disagree with her stomach, 
she suddenly awoke her daughters and her 
maid at about half past twelve o'clock on the 
second night, insisting on their immediately 
laying the table for dinner with their own 



222 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

hands, and bringing up all the cold meat in 
the house ; — which being effected, she made a 
most immoderate repast in her night-clothes, 
whilst they were compelled to wait upon her 
in theirs. 

The mistress and children of the Oriel 
school were one day electrified by her appear- 
ance among them, in the above-mentioned 
sackcloth wrapper, and with so considerable a 
sprinkling of ashes on her black crape bonnet, 
that, at almost every step she took, a shower 
of them fell around her. But this, as she 
afterwards observed, was " un Men douw spec- 
tacle pour le cceuT d'une sceur ;" for it neces- 
sarily attracted the attention of the whole 
school to the mark of respect she was paying 
the memory of the " adorable defunt.'' It 
did indeed attract their attention ; and to such 
a degree, that the mistress found it utterly 
impossible to succeed in putting a stop to the 
very disrespectful giggling that immediately 
burst forth from all parts of the school-room. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 223 

Even she herself, who, as her husband observed, 
*' ought to have been above such a thing," 
could not at first altogether maintain her gra- 
vity ; — precisely, as she retorted upon him, 
for the very reason that she teas above it ; — 
commanding as she did, from her elevated 
desk, a far better view of the sackcloth and 
ashes than the others could do. 

The speech of Mrs. Harry on this occasion 
— ^for she had come purposely to make one — ■ 
was original at least; — and most assuredly 
nothing at all like it had ever been heard 
within those walls before. It was as follows : 

" Dear angels of purity and love, and you, 
respectable mother of a family ! — without 
doubt, your gentle and compassionate hearts 
will have bled for us ; — for the joy, the peace of 
our interior is broken without return. He, 
who formerly made the delights of this en- 
chantinof abode — the amiable and interestinor 
Frederic — is lost for us. 



224 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

" You have known him ! Do I need to 
recall you his male and imposing figure — his 
sublime beauty — his eyes, so limpid, of a dark 
blue, and an infinite tenderness — his slight 
nose, worthy of the finest Roman cameo — his 
abundant and light hair, sometimes sufficiently 
ill combed — the charming oval of his face, of 
a divine paleness, which seemed to accuse 
some secret and dumb despair — his small and 
almost infantine mouth, which had in the 
movement of its beautiful lips some indication 
of gluttony — his white and powerful hands 
and almond-shaped nails — his waist, well 
taken, and full of suppleness — his feet, small, 
and always admirably shod, — what a picture 
at once simple and imposing ! . . . . His physiog- 
nomy expressed that incorruptibility which 
belongs only to great souls. His heart had 
already spoken — and do I need to tell you 
that he was adored by his young spouse?... 

" Alas, my dear angels ! this interest- 
ing cavalier — this much-loved brother — is 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 225 

lost without return ! he is dead iu his young 
age! 

" I can no more of it — I feel that I am 
struck to the heart... 

" Dear angels of innocence ; and you, re- 
spectable mother of a family, restrain not your 
tears ! Let them flow in your interiors...." 

This speech, which was fortunately pretty 
nearly incomprehensible to most of its hearers, 
being concluded, and the most profound silence 
having succeeded its delivery, Mrs. Harry 
raised her pocket-handkerchief to her eyes, 
and, with a slow and dignified step, retreated 
the way she came ; upon which, the whole 
troop of children, utterly regardless of all 
authority or restraint, rushed simultaneously 
to the door, in order to obtain another glimpse 
of her ; and raised three hearty cheers as she 
closed the gates ; but, whether this were in- 
tended as an expression of their admiration, 
their astonishment, or their utter want of 
comprehension of her meaning, we will not 

L 5 



226 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

pretend to determine. Certain it is, that 
many a little chubby boy and rosy-cheeked 
girl got into most desperate disgrace that day 
by convulsive and untimely giggling, which 
would recur, whenever the idea of that strange 
apparition presented itself to their minds. 

Yet Mrs. Harry was not mad, though almost 
everybody around Oriel believed that she was 
so ; and sincerely pitied her unfortunate 
daughters, whose lives they hardly considered 
safe with such a mother. No one had more 
perfect possession of her intellects, on all 
necessary occasions, than she had ; and no 
one was better able to manage her own affairs, 
when she chose ; — she was only eccentric, 
capricious, and very fond of exciting obser- 
vation and comment. She was not without 
a certain amount of cleverness too, in her 
own way. Strange as it may seem, she 
had actually made some money by her French 
novels, which, if they could boast no other 
merit, had certainly that of language so 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 227 

purely Parisian, that many people could not 
be persuaded that she was not really French. 
Her name, her reputation for singularity, and, 
above all, the marvellous incidents contained 
in these novels, had hitherto secured for them 
a very fair sale ; and the money thus ob- 
tained had just contrived to keep her out of 
debt, besides enabling her to make certain 
occasional additions to her hoard of half- 
crowns, which bade fair in time to amount to 
something worth having. 

But the close of her reign at Oriel was now 
fast approaching. When Mr. Eridge was 
known to have landed in England, her first 
impulse had been, as she observed, " to trans- 
port herself suddenly to the capital, and 
throw herself into the cherished arras of the 
best of fathers-in-law;" and it was not with- 
out infinite difficulty that her daughters had 
dissuaded her from this proceeding. They 
felt deeply, indeed, for the poor old man, 
and still more for the widowed Helen, whose 



228 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

grief at least might be respected, if nothing 
else were. They longed, yet dreaded, to 
behold her again — they could scarcely picture 
her to themselves — the same Helen ; — alive — 
composed — calm — as they heard she was — 
under such a calamity as had fallen upon her. 

After some time, arrived the news that, 
within the last few days, a more favourable 
turn seemed to have taken place in Evelyn's 
malady ; and that Mr. Bridge, who, till now, 
had not been able to determine on leaving the 
neighbourhood of her asylum, was shortly 
coming down to Oriel, and would bring his 
infant great grandson with him. As for Helen, 
it was settled that she should follow, as soon 
as Evelyn should be in a fit state to remove. 

Mrs. Harry no sooner heard this intelli- 
gence, than she set about making preparations 
in good earnest for receiving the old man after 
her own peculiar fashion. She dressed up 
the gardener's son as Bacchus — her own foot- 
man as Pan ; and, in spite of all remonstrance 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 229 

and entreaty on the part of her daughters, 
insisted on their assuming the parts of Flora 
and Diana. The housemaid, cook, and dairy- 
maid, were to represent the Graces, and to 
stand with their arms interlaced in a graceful 
fashion near the lodo^e-o^ates. Four or five 
particularly fat sheep had, with the greatest 
difficulty, been let out for the day by the 
steward, as he was told it was to do honour 
to his master ; — and near them, the French 
maid was to recline, holding a yard measure 
in her hand, with a hook at the end, to repre- 
sent a delicate crook. Two boys of " cette 
chlre ElisabetJi" were to be dressed as Cupids, 
with bows, arrows, and quivers, and paper 
wings, which, by an ingenious contrivance of 
their own, were so attached, that, by pulling a 
piece of packthread, they could flap them 
backwards and forwards at pleasure. 

In addition to all this, there were to be fire- 
works at night — a band of music secreted in 
the shrubbery — a little A moiir of six years old 



230 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

perched in a tree, which overhung the road, 
to scatter flowers as Mr. Eridge should pass — 
a very old and manlj-looking Cupid, in the 
shape of Mrs. Harry's eldest son — and various 
other ingenious devices, which remain to be 
described hereafter. The two girls looked 
with a melancholy and disapproving eye on it 
all. They had sense enough to feel that, 
under the painful circumstances of Mr. 
Bridge's return to his home, tJiis was not the 
fitting way in which to receive him ; but in 
vain they implored their mother, even with 
tears, to postpone her " charmante surprise,'' 
at least for the present ! She was in one of 
her most obstinate fits, and deaf to all entrea- 
ties, and all reasoning. She scarcely seemed 
to hear them ; — on she went with her prepa- 
rations, radiant with smiles and good humour, 
flitting about, here, there, and everywhere, 
superintending, advising, chattering — whilst 
the younger servants, who thought it very good 
fun to be Gods and Goddesses for once, and 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 231 

were pleased at the prospect of their master's 
return, indulged her whims, and paid more 
than ordinary attention to her injunctions. 
Most of the old servants, indeed, unable to put 
up with her strange mode of proceeding, had 
quitted Oriel long since ; but Mrs. Owen, the 
venerable housekeeper, in hopes that her dear 
old master might yet some day return to his 
home, had, with infinite difficulty, contrived 
to linger on till now. Nothing would per- 
suade her, however, to adopt any costume. 
She considered it rather as an insult that 
such a thing should be even proposed to her ; 
and said as much in such very plain terms, 
that even Mrs. Harry thought it better to 
refrain from urging her any more on the 
subject. 

Some speeches in French were composed 
for the various actors ; but it was found next 
to impossible to instil anything approaching 
to an intelligible accent into most of them. 
The harangues, therefore, were chiefly reserved 



23^ EVELYN HARCOURT. 

for the girls and Mrs, Harry herself, who had 
considerable difficulty in determining her own 
character ; but, after a vast deal of considera- 
tion, decided on appearing as Venus, both 
because she considered herself well calculated 
to represent that Goddess, and also because 
it was, as she observed, peculiarly appropriate 
that Love, who was to be the future proprietor 
of Oriel, and his mother, who had lately been 
the nominal proprietor, should welcome back 
the actual proprietor to his home. 

All preparations being at length effected, 
and none of the Gods and Goddesses, with the 
exception of the younger Cupids, having closed 
their eyes the whole night before, the im- 
portant morning at length dawned, and all 
w^as bustle and excitement. Turn which way 
you would, you heard nothing but scraps of 
execrable poetry, or worse French, or dis- 
putes as to the proper set of the dresses, or 
the poses that were to be assumed. 

" Now, Anne, how can you be so obstinate? 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 233 

when T tell you I know it is Sally ! Surely, I 
must know better than you ! Why, my last 
Mrs.'s sister's husband was French ! — ' Jee tee 
sally r That's it." 

" No, Jim ; Mrs. said most particular, I 
was to mind and say, 'Sal you.' 'Jee tee 
sal you, oh respectable mortaiir "* 

" Mortail! — mortQW !" 

" Well, it's all the same thing !" 

" Oh, dear ! I'm sure I shall forget every 
word when I see master !" 

*' Then write it down ; and when you hear 
him, whip it out of your buzzom, like I do !" 

'' Oh, Jim, do just be so good as to mend 
my left wing, please. That tiresome boy, 
Phil, has pulled the packthread through. 
There, only just make a knot." 

" Master Heneage, you'll please to call me 
Pan, sir. That's my name at present." 

" Oh, certainly ! Pan, then, and a very 
good name, too, for the pantry." 

* Je te salue^ respectable mortel ! 



234 EVELYN HAUCOURT. 

" I do hope master won't be angry." 

" Oh, not he ! Mrs. Owen says he's the 
most yenerablest old gentleman — with a pig- 
tail !— " 

" No— no pigtail !— " 

" Mrs. Owen won't be nothing herself, 
however ! — " 

" No ; Mrs. wanted her to be June, or 
July, or something !" 

^' Juno, you mean." 

" But she says she'll stand in the door, and 
curtsey to master, as befits a Christian. She 
says a paintin' of oneself up like wicked Gods 
and Goddesses is, in her judgment, worse 
than the eathen /^idolaters, and I ain't alto- 
gether clear she's wrong." 

"Oh, I say! — Missis has sent for the 
pinching-irons. She's got seventy-two curl- 
papers on...." 

" Seventy-two !" 

" Jee tee sal you, oh respectable mar- 
tail /" 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 235 

" Aiiniable a hongue pare dee /«raeel, 
venny dongiie *...." 

" The joung ladies are crying up stairs." 

" What about ? Can't they learn their 
discourses?" 

" Yes ; but they say it's all so shocking, 
and their grandpapa won't like it !" 

" Shocking ! I think it's capital fun, for 
my part...." 



The evening was lovely ; and, at the ap- 
pointed hour, Gods and Goddesses, Cupids 
and Shepherdesses, were at their respective 
posts. The woman at the lodge had been 
desired to tell the postboy, when he appeared 
at the gate, to drive very slowly through the 
pleasure-grounds, so as to give time for the 
Graces to be seen, and to make their speech. 
But, when the modest fly which contained the 
venerable master of Oriel and his infant grand- 
son, as well as the American nurse, appeared 

* Aimable et bon pere de famille^venez done . . . 



236 EVELYN HAKCOURT. 

in sight, the Graces were seized with an un- 
fortunate disposition to giggle, and were seen 
to abandon their attitudes, and fall into irre- 
coverable confusion. 
" You say it, cook !" 
" No, I GSin't~j/ou do." 
" It's not my place." 
" Does master look angry ?" 
" I ain't looking — I'm too frightened." 
In the mean time, Mr. E ridge was observed 
to gaze, as though in astonishment, at the 
group, endeavouring in vain to make out who 
and what they were ; when, just at that 
moment, the Cupid of six, in his laudable 
anxiety to fulfil his instructions, and let fall 
the roses at the right moment, made an un- 
lucky mistake, and let fall Jiimself in their 
stead right upon the back of the horse, to its 
very great consternation as well as his own ! 
Not being exactly accustomed to such a 
method of being mounted, it took fright, and 
plunged about rather unpleasantly for some 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 237 

minutes, the boy still clinging on, till at last, 
by great exertion, he contrived to get his 
legs across the back of the animal, thereby 
presenting to the astonished eyes of Mr. 
Eridge the uncommon spectacle of a half- 
naked and highly rouged Cupid on horseback, 
with paper wings, a card-board quiver, and 
the name of Cupid printed in enormous red 
ink letters on his back ; for Mrs. Harry, recol- 
lecting the ignorance and want of experience 
with which she had to contend in this un- 
sophisticated neighbourhood, had, with that 
forethought peculiar to herself, resolved to 
prevent all possible mistakes as to the identity 
of the personages, by inscribing their names 
in legible characters on their backs. 

The travellers had scarcely recovered from 
this first shock to their nerves, when a band 
of most execrable wind-instruments struck 
up, apparently from under the nose of the 
horse, which naturally began prancing again ; 
so that Cupid had much ado to keep his seat, 



238 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

and actually lost one of his wings in the 
struggle. The five sheep, being much alarmed 
at the discordant sounds, for which thej had 
not been prepared, (for there had unfortu- 
nately been no rehearsal !) rushed madly in 
the most injudicious direction ; namely, right 
across the road, whilst a figure dressed in a 
bright scarlet petticoat, a green spencer, and 
wreath of artificial cabbage-roses, was seen to 
rush after them, brandishing a yard measure, 
and exclaiming, " Ah ! ces maudits animauw I 
iCest-il emhetantf — Mais four le coup c'est 
trap fort quHls me f assent faire une pareille 
course /" 

Mr. Eridofe and his valet beo^an to think all 
the people were bewitched ; but their asto- 
nishment had not yet reached its climax. A 
little further on, the carriage was stopped by 
the gardener's son, dressed as Bacchus, with 
a wreath of bunches of hothouse grapes round 
his head, some of which he was to detach and 
gracefully offer to Mr. Bridge, whilst Pan was 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 239 

to utter an appropriate harangue in verse. 
But Bacchus was in a state of such heat and 
confusion, that he could not succeed in finding 
the right bunches which had been tied loosely 
on purpose ; and he was fairly obliged to inter- 
rupt the speech of Pan, and hand the garden- 
scissors to that individual, w^ho obligingly 
" cut and cut again," till a perfect profusion 
of grapes, vine-leaves, and hair, came shower- 
ing down upon Mr. Bridge's knees, which, 
enabling Bacchus for the first time to obtain 
a view of his master, made him altogether 
forget his part ; so, twitching one of his re- 
maining locks, he hoped, in plain English, 
" he seed his honour well, and might make so 
bold as to welcome him back to the old place !" 
On reaching the hall-door, a new wonder 
presented itself. The whole interior of the 
porch was hung with evergreens, and orna- 
mented with wreaths of flowers ; whilst, on a 
kind of triumphal car, composed of the gig, 
to which were attached the aforementioned 



240 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Heneage Cupids, who were supposed to draw 
it along, reposed Venus herself, attired in 
white satin and diamonds. At her feet was 
an elderly and very sulky-looking Cupid, and 
she was backed by Flora and Diana, both 
looking extremely disconsolate. 

The carriage no sooner stopped, than Venus 
rose, and, having with some difficulty suc- 
ceeded in emerging from the gig, proceeded 
to deliver the obstinate-looking Cupid into 
the power of Mr. Bridge, welcoming him in 
a neat and appropriate French speech to the 
" terre de ses aieuob\'' and finally delivering 
her sceptre of rule, an old walking-stick of his, 
adorned with a wreath of flowers, into his 
hands. It was then properly the turn of Flora 
and Diana to speak ; but the one threw down 
her basket of flowers, and the other her hunt- 
ing-appointments, and both ran into the arms 
of their grandpapa, quite incapable of express- 
ing their welcome otherwise than by their 
tears — a method of greeting far more grateful 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 941 

to the feelings of the old man than any speech 
they could possibly have made him. Indeed, 
their welcome, and that of poor Mrs. Jones, 
were the only redeeming points of his recep- 
tion in Mr. Bridge's mind. All the rest he 
considered as utterly beneath contempt, al- 
though he refrained, not indeed without some 
difficulty, from telling his daughter-in-law so 
to her face. As soon as he could possibly do 
so, however, he made the excuse of excessive 
fatigue, to escape from the rouged and ring- 
letted Venus to his own room, where, owing 
to the thoughtfulness of Mrs. Jones, he was 
shortly after provided with tea ; though, had 
it not been for her, he might have gone cold 
and supperless to bed. The Graces had been 
far too busy to think of supper, or even of 
keeping in the kitchen-fire, and, consequently, 
the Gods and Goddesses found themselves 
obliged, after the fatigues of the day. to put 
up with little besides the vulgar refreshments 
of bread, cheese, and beer. 

VOL. II. M 



242 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

In the mean time, Mrs. Harry, in high dud- 
geon at the ill success of the " charmante sur- 
prise " she had contrived with so much skill, 
and quite disgusted with the total absence of 
sentiment in the father of her tresor, retired 
to her own room, and indignantly directed 
that none of the other entertainments, includ- 
ing rockets, squibs, fireworks, &c., should take 
place. But this by no means agreed with 
the inclinations of the younger part of the 
family, who had looked forward to these en- 
tertainments as by far the best part of the 
concern. Rocket after rocket was let off, to 
the great admiration of the surrounding cot- 
tagers, and delight of the boys ; squibs with- 
out number caused the Graces to jump again ; 
and if the fireworks did not afford much de- 
light to the heads of the family, they at least 
produced abundance of entertainment to the 
younger branches of it, as well as to the ser- 
vants. As for Mrs. Harry, she pretended to 
be unconscious of the whole concern, and 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 243 

occupied herself in her own room, with one of 
her favourite French novels, till it was time to 
retire to rest. 

The last thing done by the boys on the 
eventful evenino^ was to liijht an enormous 
bonfire, which they had been heaping up for 
the last two days with the aid of Pan. Three 
hearty cheers were then given by the whole 
crowd assembled on the lawn, in honour of 
Mr. Eridge, who acknowledged the compli- 
ment by opening his window, and, putting 
forth his venerable head with its nightcap on, 
very strongly recommending them all to ad- 
journ to their beds, as he was about to do to 
his. This speech was received with rapturous 
applause, on which the old gentleman drew 
in his nightcap — and, after one cheer more, 
that made the old walls ring again, the party 
took his hint, and quietly dispersed. 



M 2 



244 EVELYN HARCOURT. 



CHAPTER XXVIIL 

Macduff. .... awake ! awake ! 

Ring the alarum-bell. 

Macbeth. 

The thick air stifled them — they drew their breath 
In painful gasps — in an instant came 
A wide and universal rush of flame. 

.... timid, helpless girls 
Rushed forth distractedly, and madly prayed 
Protection. . . . 

.... He chose to stay, 
With noble self-devotedness. 

Prowse. 

Old Man. .... But this sore night 

Hath trifled former knowings. 

Macbeth. 

After one sleepless night and a day of such 
unusual excitement, the whole household at 
Oriel were wrapped in the most profound re- 
pose, when suddenly a solitary fearful cry of 
Fire ! fire ! resounded throuoh the house, and, 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 245 

in a very few moments afterwards, smoke was 
seen curling and wreathing out of every possi- 
ble aperture, filling the passages and corri- 
dor's to suffocation. Then, door after door 
was hastily thrown open, and half-dressed, 
wild-looking figures appeared in every direc- 
tion — some, just as they had darted out of 
bed, on being first roused from the total un- 
consciousness of heavy, dreamless sleep, by 
that sudden, fearful cry — some, hastily attired 
in the first garment they could lay their hands 
on — but all pale, scared, half-distracted in 
their looks. 

And now commenced a scene of terror and 
confusion which baffles all description ! Little 
do those who have been fortunate enough 
never to be in the midst of a fire imagine the 
fearful, the indescribable effects it produces 
upon the minds of those who are exposed to 
it — the agonizing terror of some — the horrible 
apathy of others — the apparent insanity of 
all. Some it deprives of all power of reason 



246 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

or reflection, and they will rush madly into 
the very midst of danger ; others appear bewil- 
dered, stunned, as though they had suddenly 
lost their memory ; and others will fly about, 
shrieking for aid, and refusing to avail them- 
selves of aid when it is offered. There is not 
one person in a hundred that will retain cool- 
ness and presence of mind in the midst of a 
fire. 

It soon became evident that the flames 
raged most fearfully in the left wing of the 
building, where an empty room in which the 
boys had been preparing their fireworks was 
situated. Some inflammable materials, care- 
lessly left by them too near the fireplace, had 
iofnited, and occasioned the whole of this 
dreadful mischief. In this wing was Mr. 
Bridge's bed-chamber. 

When the first alarm was given, the old 
housekeeper, roused amongst the rest by the 
cry of fire, and by the strong smell of burn- 
ing, emerged from her bed, and, hastily throw- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 247 

ing on a dressing-gown, rushed into the pas- 
sage. Finding it almost impossible to breathe, 
from the volumes of smoke that were pouring 
into it from all directions, the first thought of 
her faithful heart was for her master, who 
slept below. She hurried down the turret- 
stairs which led to his room, and knocked 
with eager violence at the door, screaming to 
him to come out, for God's sake ! But it was 
some moments before she could succeed in 
awakening him, for, worn out with the fatigue 
of his journey, as well as the excitement of 
his return, the poor old man slept soundly. 
To her, faint and giddy with all the sensations 
of approaching suffocation, each moment 
seemed an age. At length he came forth, 
and, with gasping breath, she besought him 
to fly whilst be yet could ! 

" Come with me, sir, for God's sake ! we 
may yet get down these stairs — another mo- 
ment, and it will be too late !...." 

She seized his hand, and endeavoured to 



248 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

drag him on ; but the old man paused, ar- 
rested bj a sudden recollection. 

'* Where does the infant sleep ?" he in- 
quired. 

" Oh God ! — above — in the yellow turret !" 

" The nurse can never find her way out ; 
she is a stranger here, and no one will think 
of her — / must find her. Go down, Owen — 
go down — try to alarm the others, and, if pos- 
sible, send some one up to assist me. I will 
follow you, if I can !" 

She heard no more. A dense mass of 
smoke rolled on, as it were, between them, 
separating, as by a solid wall, the one from the 
other; — a horrible mass of flame burst out 
to the left, and the crashing of falling timbers 
was heard below. The old man hurried up 
the narrow stairs with all his feeble strength, 
and, as he ascended, the air became some- 
what freer and more pure, enabling him at 
length to reach the door of the yellow turret. 
He felt for the handle ; — contrary to his ex- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 249 

pectation, the door was open, and he entered. 
The nurse was there, partially dressed, with 
the child in her arms, standing as though 
panic-struck in the midst of the chamber. 
The moment she saw him, she uttered an ex- 
pression of gratitude and joy, and sprang for- 
ward eagerly to meet him. Perceiving that 
she trembled so violently that she could 
scarcely hold the sleeping infant, he gently 
took it from her ; and, telling her that there 
was not an instant to be lost, bade her follow, 
and keep as close to him as possible, and then 
immediately began to attempt his dangerous 
descent. But now the smoke had become so 
frightfully dense, that no human lungs could 
bear it — it was absolutely suffocating. 
He had descended with difficulty one short 
flight, clinging for support to the banisters, 
as he slowly felt his way down from step to 
step, when he was attacked by a sudden and 
dreadful giddiness. He staggered forward a 
few paces, and leant helplessly against the 

M 5 



250 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

wall of the narrow Ian din of. Just at that 
instant, the feeble cry of the nifant rung in 
his ears. " Save the child !" were the last 
words he uttered. He made one vain effort 
to stretch it out in the direction wheie he 
imagined the nurse to be. A faintness as of 
death came over him — he sank down heavily. 

All was over... 

And at that moment, the flames curled up 
the turret-stairs with a fury overwhelming 
and horrible, consuming all before them like 
tinder. They fell with a tremendous crash, 
and then uprose column upon column of dense 
black smoke — thick and impenetrable!.... 
Then all was darkness ! 

The old housekeeper, in the mean time, 
had, somehow or other, almost miraculously 
succeeded in making her way below. Half 
mad with agonizing fear for her master, she 
rushed towards the principal staircase, which 
was already in flames. There she found 
several persons collected, many of them in a 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 9 5 I 

state of something like distraction, and some 
apparently completely stupified. One woman 
sat at the top of the stairs, with her head 
sunk on her knees, making not the smallest 
effort to save herself; and, though occa- 
sionally kicked aside in the confusion, always 
replacing lierself mechanically in the same 
position. Another was on her knees, praying 
aloud in a perfect ecstasy of terror ; and ano- 
ther was in the most violent hysterics on the 
stairs — heeded, cared for by no one. 

As Mrs. Owen rushed among the crowd, 
wildly imploring, for Mercy's sake, aid to 
save her master, she was surrounded at once ; 
some clinging to her knees — some to her 
night-dress — all appealing to her for assist- 
ance, — she who was only bent on procuring it 
for him. As, not without difficulty, she forced 
her way among them, and they persisted in 
clinging to her, impeding her progress, she 
pushed one after another away from her with 
something almost like indignation. 



552 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

'* Will no one help me to save the old man 
—the master of this house ?" cried she, with 
a solemn energy, that, even in that moment 
of intense horror and selfish apprehension, 
was not entirely without its effect. But cries 
and groans were the only answer she could 
obtain. 

Suddenly, the youthful form of Julia 
Bridge was seen springing forward. 

" Grandpapa, did you say? — ^grandpapa — 
oh ! / will help you ! — where is he — where ? 
— / will help you to save him ?" 

" Is there no 7nan that will help me ? — no 
one Christian man that will risk his life to 
save my dear old master's ?" 

But there was no reply. Some rushed 
wildly in one direction — some in another; 
doors were opened, from w^hich the flames 
burst forth with resistless fury — and still 
smoke, smoke — thicker and thicker — came 
rushing forth from every aperture. 

The old housekeeper felt there was some 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 253 

one clinging to her ; and, in the horrible din 
and confusion of falling timbers, she heard a 
voice cry in her ears — " Let us try to save 
him ! — let us try to save him !" — 

Squeezing the arm of Julia in token of 
assent, she made a desperate rush towards the 
turret-stairs, dragging her companion after 
her. But a volume of smoke met them which 
it was impossible to resist ; and, just as she 
was sinking to the ground, breathless and 
fainting, she felt a powerful arm thrown round 
her waist, and herself forcibly dragged away 
in another direction. She made a faint effort 
to retain the hand of Julia ; but it was torn 
from her — and she remembered no more, till, 
roused by a sensation of great heat, she found 
herself stretched on the lawn before the burn- 
ing building, saved — she knew not how, nor 
by what hand — but saved ! 

Then there was a sudden and agonizing cry 
raised for ladders ; and dark forms flew about 
in every direction, inquiring where they might 



S54 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

be found ; and, strange to say, no one seemed 
to know. And, in the midst of the shrieks, 
the groans, the shouts, and indescribable 
tumult and confusion that prevailed around, 
suddenly the deep tones of the great dinner- 
bell were heard above them all, raising its 
voice through the dark night as though in 
solemn entreaty for help from afar !.... Alas ! 
that venerable pile sent forth its despairing 
cry in vain ! No human power could possibly 
save it now ! Fall it must ; — its very age 
rendered it but an easier prey to the flames 
which burst forth, as it were, from its own 
bosom, and hugged it to its destruction ! 

Suddenly, the form of Mrs. Harry was seen 
at one of the upper windows, shrieking madly 
for help ; and the next moment, a dark object 
fell heavily on the gravel walk below. At 
first, all believed it to be her — but no ! It 
was one of the maids, who, in an agony of 
terror and distraction, had thrown herself 
down from the window of the adjoining room 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 955 

io Mrs. Harry's, and now lay, without sense 
or motion, on the ground. Oh ! horror ! 
horror !... 

In vain Mrs. Owen endeavoured to rise ; 
she found it impossible to do so — her limbs 
were completely paralyzed, and she fell help- 
lessly back each time she repeated the effort, 
till, faint with fatigue and covered with per- 
spiration, she was compelled to give up the 
attempt as vain. Still, she would not abandon 
qU hope. ThinkiDg ever of her master, the 
faithful creature shrieked, louder than ever, 
*' Save my master — my dear master — save 
him ! Do not let the old man be burnt alive 
— he is on the turret-stairs. ..Oh, God ! save 
my master !" 

But her voice became fainter and fainter 
as her desperation increased ; and no one 
heard her, no one stayed to listen to her — all 
were now intent upon the wj;etched being 
wdio was screaming hoarsely at the window, 
in instant fear of her life. 



956 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

At length, a mattress was brought, and 
placed beneath, and she was entreated to 
jump out upon it. Some screamed that it 
would be her only chance — another moment 
and it would be too late ; others shouted to 
her that " it would be certain death," and 
implored her to wait but a few minutes longer, 
at any risk — " a ladder was coming, would be 
there almost immediately ;" and they pointed 
with significant gestures to the figure of the 
unfortunate woman, who had precipitated her- 
self from the window, and whom they were 
vainly endeavouring to restore to animation ; 
and ever, between the intervals of these yells, 
came the sound of her hoarse shrieks — hoarser 
and hoarser, fainter and fainter — as though 
her strength were failing fast ! 

But now, by the fearful light of the blazing 
pile, a dozen forms are seen struggling on, 
with distracted efforts. A ladder is coming — 
is here ! Her sons have found it, and are 
labouriuix with horrible and convulsive efforts 



EVELYN HARCOTTRT. 257 

to bring it on. One might almost hear their 
hearts beat as they strain till their sinews 
swell like chords, and with parched throats 
strive to excite their companions to fresh 
eiforts, and ever cry out, " Mother, keep up, 
keep up ! — help for you ! — we are coming.... !" 

A moment more, and it is up — against the 
window — hurra, hurra ! and they have caught 
her in their arms, the noble boys, and brought 
her down — and she is saved ! 

But they bear her form away, helpless as 
that of a child, for she has fainted. — 

And now screams are heard in another 
direction — the voice of Constance on the burn- 
ing staircase, and people shout to her to go 
up — up — up — to one of the passage windows. 
But burning beams are falling round her 
every instant, and she cannot hear their 
words. ...Oh, horror I — that slender, graceful 

form will be crushed to death ! She wrings 

her hands — she implores their pity, their 
assistance. And swift as lightning Harry 



258 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Eridge breaks through the crowd, and dashes 
up the ladder, and, whilst others more slowly 
follow, disappears amidst the smoke and flame. 
A dreadful pause ensues — men scarcely dare 
to breathe, and their flesh creeps with horror. 
Fresh flames burst forth. All hope is over.... 
But, no ! — here he comes again, a parched 
and blackened figure, ghastly and awful to 
look upon ; but he has her in his arms, and 

two others are supporting him Well they 

may ! — he can scarcely reach the lowest step ! 
he sinks down on the ground, gasping, and 
hardly to be recognised ! — 

But he has saved his sister ! 

The roof falls in at last — an awful crash ! 
and one vast mass of smoke and flame uprises 
to the skies. And then the delicate tracery 
of the beautiful window-frames is shown out 
clear and distinct by the red light within ; 
and even the inscription on the carved stone 
over the ancient porch, though faint from the 
lapse of years, can be read with ease. And 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 259 

one end of the chapel, with its exquisite stained 
glass windows, half overhung with ivy, yet 
remains entire, but standing disjointed and 
aloof, as it were, from the rest of the building, 
as thoudi shunninof it in its downfall. It is 
a sad yet a magnificent spectacle. The ve- 
nerable, time-honoured Oriel is beautiful to 
the last, even in its very destruction ! 

But now is come the last, the fearful horror, 
to which all the others are as nothing — to 
count the missing. Alas, three are not there 
— nowhere to be found ! In this awful con- 
flagration, young and old have perished — the 
infant, in its unconscious innocence ; and the 
old gray-haired man, who, with a noble indif- 
ference to his own life, tried to save that of 
the child for its mother's sake ! Both have 
perished... The nurse, too ! — Those three 

Desperate were the efforts made to save 
them by the distracted boys, the servants, the 
peasantry around ; but it was all in vain. 
Help came too late — long too late! Their 



260 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

bodies were afterwards found amongst a heap 
of charred wood and ashes, the fragments of 
the turret stairs. The nurse, whose clothes 
were less entirely consumed than those of the 
others (she had, somehow or other, contrived 
partially to dress herself), was a few yards 
behind them. In the old man's arms was a 
tiny effigy, black and shrivelled. He had 
died with the child clasped to his bosom ! . . . . 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 261 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

...This building was noble and proud ; 

But short is the sunbeam of Fortune and Fate. 

Mrs. Hemans. 

.. carried to 
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors, 
And guardian of their bones. 

Macbeth. 

Je vois pres d'une tombe une foule eperdue 
J'entends des cris plaintifs. 

CORNEILLE. 

...The grief that does not speak 
Whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break. 

Macbeth. 

And Oriel Hall — that venerable pile, where 
sreneration after o^eneration had first seen the 
light, had been fostered and cherished, and 
had at length yielded up their breath — Oriel 
Hall was now a heap of blackened ruins, w^ith 
liere and there a portion of its ancient wall, 



262 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

or a fragment of unrivalled carving left un- 
touched — a melancholy specimen of the 
beauty that had been destroyed. 

The house, though not the furniture, was 
ensured ; and of the latter, comparatively 
little vras saved. Some books, wearing ap- 
parel, mattresses, and bedding, and a few 
valuable pictures, escaped the general con- 
flagration ; but so much that was invaluable 
and rare was destroyed, that neither time nor 
money could ever repair the loss. Some few 
articles of value, indeed, were rescued in the 
minute search that took place afterwards ; 
but a far greater number were so injured, as 
to be rendered totally useless. It was a sin- 
gular and melancholy fact, that Mr. Bridge's 
bedroom remained standing almost entire, one 
of the very few that did so. Had he remained 
in it, he would have been safe. 

Of the survivors, several had been seriously 
injured. Julia Eridge, who, with sublime 
self-devotion, had persisted in seeking her 



EVELYN HARCOUKT. 263 

grandfather, and had escaped ahnost bj a 
miracle, having: been rescued when almost 
suffocating by one of. the gardeners, was dread- 
fully burnt ; her eldest brother, whose heroic 
conduct excited the admiration of the whole 
country, was still more so. The maid servant, 
who had thrown herself from the window, was 
so much injured, that her life was for a long 
while despaired of, though she did ultimately 
recover; two other servants were seriously hurt, 
and several of the surrounding labourers, ^^ ho 
had assisted in endeavouring to extinguish the 
fire, were more or less so. There was hardly 
any one, in short, with the exception of Mrs. 
Harry, who had escaped without burns or 
contusions of some kind. Poor old Mrs. Jones 
was many weeks before she regained the use 
of her limbs, and her mind never wholly re- 
covered the shock of that fearful night, and 
the horror of her beloved master's end. She 
would entreat all around her, in the most 
pathetic terms, to save him, as she had so 



264 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

long persevered in doing on that occasion ; 
and when assured it was too late, that he was 
beyond all help now, she would sit and be- 
moan herself till she wrung tears from all 
eyes, occasionally muttering to herself that it 
was a judgment upon the family for the awful 
wickedness of their reception of the dear old 
man, and that such heathen doings deserved 
the signal punishment they had met with. 

As for Mrs. Harry, what seemed chiefly to 
disturb her mind was the loss of her valuable 
MSS. If she did not feel the destruction of 
her last French novel as much as the dreadful 
calamities that had taken place, she at least 
said much more about it, which disgusted all 
those around her so much, that they could 
scarcely refrain from expressing their feelings 
even in her very presence. 

The desolate family were most kindly shel- 
tered at the Parsonage, where the excellent 
rector and his wife exerted themselves to do 
all in their power to comfort them, under 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 265 

their most melanclioly circumstances. And 
during the following days, invitations, expres- 
sions of sympathy, and offers of service, kept 
pouring in from all quarters. The whole county 
was alive. Every one vied with the others in 
showing kindness and attention to the survivors 
of poor old Mr. Eridge. Never perhaps did any 
private event, affecting only a few individuals, 
produce so great and so universal a sensation, 
nor excite such heartfelt commiseration ; it 
was the theme of conversation and comment 
throughout the whole country ! The papers 
teemed with it, and every particular relating 
to the tragical end of the poor old man and 
the heroism of his grandchildren was related 
again and again, and greedily caught at by 
the public. The Eridges suddenly rose into 
people of importance — public characters ; and 
the calamity that had befallen them rendered 
them objects of sympathy to all the world. 

The ruins were strictly guarded, and, under 
the direction of some of the neighbouring 

VOL. II. N 



966 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

gentry, an immediate and strict search was 
made among them for every article worth 
preserving. Indeed, every particle of dust 
and ashes was carefully sifted, and thus all 
that was of the slightest value was reclaimed 
from the general wreck. 

An inquest was, of course, held upon the 
three parched and shrivelled bodies, at which 
all who could furnish evidence respecting the 
fire were obliged to attend. Harry Eridge 
was far too ill to be present, but the simple 
and touching evidence of his brother and 
sisters could not be listened to without tears, 
and the scene that ensued was one that it was 
impossible ever to forget. There could be 
no doubt indeed in what manner the fire origi- 
nated, and that the carelessness of the young 
Bridges had been the occasion of it ; and it 
was partly the bitter consciousness of this 
that had nerved them to almost superhuman 
efforts. Alas! they heard the praises be- 
stowed upon them; but their own hearts 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 267 

could not be consoled, when they thought of 
the dear old man, who, after so long an ab- 
sence, had but just crossed his own threshold 
to perish by so sad a fate. 

A verdict of accidental death was, of course, 
returned ; and the jury, in a few emphatic 
words, recorded their heartfelt admiration of 
the self-devotion and utter contempt of danger 
manifested by all the grandchildren of the late 
lamented Mr. Eridge, whose own life had 
been the forfeit of his noble attempt to save 
those of two helpless fellow-creatures. 

For many a year afterwards, the great Oriel 
fire was talked of among the peasantry around, 
in subdued and awe-struck tones, as some- 
thing too dreadful to be mentioned without 
fear ; and to this day, the melancholy death 
of '' The Eridge," as the old man was called, 
still forms one of the most harrowing of the 
tales that are told by the winter fireside in 
that simple neighbourhood ; and the children 
will cower tremblingly around, with pale 

N 2 



268 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

cheeks and staring eyes, and eagerly listen to 
every particular of the horrors of that dread- 
ful night — horrors they can scarcely believe 
were actually witnessed by those who relate 
them. 

And the funeral ! never indeed could the 
scene that took place the day of the funeral 
be forgotten by any one who was present at 
it. The whole county attended. For miles 
round, the roads and lanes were thronged 
with the concourse of those who came to pay 
a last tribute of respect to the memory of the 
good old man. Every one who could beg or 
borrow a bit of black for the occasion as- 
sumed it ; and mourning was in the hearts as 
well as on the outward forms of all. The 
poor had lost a friend who had been but just 
restored to them ; the rich, an excellent and 
venerated neighbour. All felt the manner of 
his death as a great and irreparable calamity ! 
Each had some generous trait, some Chris- 
tian virtue, some kind word or deed to relate 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 269 

of him ! And his dying act was indeed the 
crowning one of all ! 

His coffin, plain and unadorned, was carried 
to the grave by six of his principal tenants, 
and followed by his weeping grandchildren 
and servants. Immediately after it, came 
that of the infant who had been the innocent 
cause of his death ; and many a mother, as 
she stood to see that tiny coffin pass along, 
grasped the hand of her trembling child still 
closer in her own, and dropped a tear of pity 
for the mother of that infant — she, who had 
now indeed lost all ! 

But, hush ! who is that veiled and shrouded 
form that follows, with gliding footstep, close 
behind the tiny coffin? .... It is the chief 
mourner of the infant ! She weeps not — in 
solemn silence she glides on — and when the 
end is reached, and amidst one mighty, uni- 
versal burst of grief, those glorious words are 
heard, which, rising above the sounds of 
human weakness and agony, speak of hope 



270 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

and life beyond the grave — her voice alone is 
hushed — she stands unmoved — she sheds no 
tear. . . . 

But now the last moment — the very last — 
is come ; and *' Dust must return to dust," to 
be seen on earth no more. Hush ! she kneels 
— softly she imprints one kiss upon the little 
coffin — the last — then rises and turns away. 
No sob — no groan — no token of inward agony 
is heard ; but wistfully she turns to gaze again 
into the dark vault, where, on the bosom of 
the old man who cherished it in life, they have 
laid the child. — It will sleep well there ! 

All is over — she turns to go — and the crowd 
separates to let her pass ! They remember 
that " he was the only son of his mother, and 
she is a widow," and they dare not look upon 
her.... 



Mother, thy task is done ! Never again on 
earth shall thy lonely heart be gladdened by 
the sounds of that little voice — never shall 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 271 

those tiny hands be outstretched to caress 
thee, nor to welcome thine approach ! The 
sweet, blue eyes thou so lovedst to look upon 
are hid for ever from thy sight — the little 
heart is still ! But in thy dreams thou mayest 
see him yet — with his innocent smile and 
sunny brow — in thy dreams, thou mayest 
stroke his soft, fair hair — and thou shalt go 
to him, though he shall not return to thee!... 
Above — ABOVE ! Oh, bereaved and broken- 
hearted Mother! must thou look for him 



272 EVELYN HARCOURT. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half. 

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon, 

Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse, 

Without a hope of day ! — 

The sun to me is dark, 

And silent is the moon 

When she deserts the night, 

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. 

Samson Agonistes. 

I only watched and wished to weep. 
But could not — for my burning brow 
Throbbed to the very brain, as now — 
I wished but for a single tear, 
As something welcome, new, and dear. 

Bride of Ahydos. 

I hear the sound of coming feet. 

Giaour. 

We must now go back to the period 
immediately preceding these melancholy 
events, and return to Evelyn, whom we left 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 273 

but just beginning to recover the dawn of 
reason. 

By slow but very perceptible degrees she 
was advancing towards renewed health ; and 
each day her consciousness grew more distinct, 
and her powers of memory stronger. But as, 
little by little, the events which had occurred 
recalled themselves to her remembrance, like 
various parts of a disjointed dream — vivid at 
the time, but leaving a painful and confused 
impression behind it ; — her wounds seemed to 
open afresh, and she lived over again all the 
exquisite anguish of those dreary hours. 
Arthur ! the loved — the worshipped ! — where 
was he now ? — that had been one of her first 
questions to Helen. In a far distant land — 
gone, perhaps for ever. And her last words 
to him had been words of anger and contempt. 
It had been for Jiis sake, indeed — to save his 
precious life — but still it was a bitter re- 
membrance ! 

Then one by one would come back upon 

N 5 



274 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

her memory each trivial incident — each trying 
circumstance of those terrible days. — Ages 
seemed to have passed by since then — ages of 
strange and troubled existence. Her loathed 
engagement to the Duke, which had made 
life a burden — her frantic fears for her lover 
— then the duel — and Lord Truro's announce- 
ment of it — the murder of the infant, (for she 
still believed it had been murdered, and it 
was not without the greatest difficulty that 
Helen at last succeeded in undeceiving her), 
— the despair — the shrieks of the mother — 
the violence with which, in her vain attempt 
to save it, she had herself been torn from her 
cousin's side ; — all these rose fearfully distinct 
before her ! But then came chaos — something 
of indescribable horror and agony, but what 
she struggled in vain to recall ! 

Two things indeed she did remember after 
a time — the voice of the nurse who had at- 
tended her — and the consciousness of unut- 
terable agony in her brow and eyes ! — This 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 275 

was all ; — the rest was night — black, black 
darkness .... 

Darkness — oh, what a word ! never till now 
had she known its real meaning ! Darkness 
was indeed upon her now: — for her had 
begun an endless night. Her mind had indeed 
opened again to the light of reason ; but never 
should her eyes behold the light of another 
day ! Thick, impenetrable darkness had closed 
upon them. For her all was over ! 

At first it grieved her but little. She had 
a strong conviction that she should die ; — 
that a short period would put an end to her 
sufferings and her life, and it mattered little 
what befel her during the short interval that 
remained. Helen was there beside her ; — she 
could still hear her voice, and be soothed by 
it — but the only one in whose eyes it would 
be heaven to gaze^ was lost to her. In her 
hearty she saw him, however ; — he was con- 
stantly before her. She could picture him 
now to herself far more distinctly than she 



276 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

had ever done in her days of hope and 
vision. The eyes of her spirit were not 
darkened ; — her inward sight was clearer 
than ever. 

One thing gave her comfort — the unex- 
pected recovery of Lady Truro. But even 
whilst rejoicing at this one bright spot, she 
bitterly felt her absence at this time. It was 
not till months afterwards, that she gradually 
discovered from the reluctant Helen that the 
cousin whom she had loved and nursed with 
such intense devotion, and for whose sake she 
had sacrificed her whole existence, had never 
even made an attempt to see her since the 
night of her infant's death. It was fortunate 
that she awoke but gradually to a conviction 
of the coldness and selfishness of one she 
had loved so well — had she known it sooner, 
it might have gone far a second time to un- 
settle her reason. 

And now the singular unselfishness, the 
untiring devotion, of Helen's character began 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 277 

to manifest themselves in all their rare beauty. 
She carefnllj concealed from Evelyn her own 
misfortunes. She would not suffer one pain- 
ful image that could be hid to obtrude itself 
before her, — one pang that could be spared, to 
wring that fallen spirit, but just emerging 
from the depths of madness and despair. For 
Evelyn's sake, she forced herself to appear 
cheerful. She spoke of her infant ; dwelling 
upon its loveliness, its attractions, with all a 
mother's natural vanity ; — she spoke of its 
father as absent. She strove to turn the mind 
of her companion to Oriel ; — to that old home 
where their childhood had been passed to- 
gether — where she trusted they might once 
more dwell in peace, if not in joy. She 
brought none but calm and peaceful images 
before her — she soothed her as one might 
soothe a fretful child. And, in spite of her- 
self, Evelyn icas calmed as she listened ; — but 
still her answer ever was, " Too late — too 
late ! my life is over. I have no hope on 



278 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

earth! no wish, except for rest — and, I am 
blind..,:' 

" But I will be as sight to you — every 
wish of yours shall be prevented ; — I will be 
your servant — your slave. What is there I 
would not do for you ?" 

" Oh, you are good — too good to me; — I 
have not deserved your kindness. But it is 
all in vain — my heart is broken — I have lost 
all — and I am weary of this world ; — to me a 
living tomb." 

At length, Dr, A began to think that 

she might soon be removed by easy journeys 
into Wales ; and then it was that Mr. Eridge 
took his departure for Oriel, intending to 
prepare all things for the reception of his two 
dear children, as he fondly termed them both. 
Helen's heart was unusually sad as she em- 
braced her child at parting ; in spite of her 
hope that their separation would be but short ; 
— but Evelyn was there — sitting up for the 
first time supported by pillows ; and she had 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 279 

smiled a faint and sickly smile as its little 
voice broke on her ears and its velvet cheek 
was laid to hers ; and not for worlds would 
Helen have saddened her still further by one 
word or sif^h of reofret. 

But when the letter came, with its broad 
black seal (for Adelaide Eridge had not for- 
gotten lier^ the most bereaved of all in this 
bitter calamity;) — and she read of horrors 
scarcely to be believed, she was for the mo- 
ment stunned ! — Grief with Helen was not of 
a nature that could find a vent in tears or 
outward lamentations. " The iron entered into 
her soul" — but it entered silently. The blow 
that had struck her now was one which, from 
its very crushingness, she never could rise 
from. But she was passive under it. 

She did not faint, nor shriek — she sat for 
some time — she never knew how long — with 
that letter open before her, and her eyes 
intently fixed upon the characters, which 
seemed to burn themselves into her brain — 



280 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

but she spoke not — she sat like one in a 
dream !... 

With Evelyn, such a shock would have 
produced violence — despair — delirium — but 
Helen's was a different nature. Her mind, 
calmer and more subdued, was also more 
concentrated : — impressions with her might 
seem at first less strong, but they only sunk 
the deeper. 

She was recalled to herself by the voice of 
Evelyn, making some trivial inquiry ; and she 
commanded herself to reply to her calmly, 
and as usual. And, in the many hours that 
followed — during which she slept not — ate 
not — ceased not for one moment to feel the 
weight of that fiery secret which she carried 
about within her — she had the wonderful 
firmness, the almost incredible heroism, to 
command her voice, her manner ; to betray 
no symptom of agitation — to converse as usual 
with Evelyn — to read to her — to pray beside 
her. . and she never shed one tear. But what 



EVELYN H ARCOURT. 281 

she then endured might well shorten her life 
— probably did so. 

At length the time arrived for her to go ; 
that she might perform the melancholy duty 
she had assigned to herself, of seeing her in- 
fant laid in its grave. She had told Evelyn 
that it was necessary she should go to Oriel, 
in order to prepare for her reception after- 
wards ; but that she should not be away from 
her more than two days. Even this short 
absence, however, did serious harm to the 
delicate invalid, whose mind was still too weak 
to endure the slightest contrariety of any 
kind ; — and, when Helen returned, she found 
there had been a trifling recurrence of uncon- 
sciousness. It was only trifling, however: 
her voice, soothing and gentle as ever, was 
able soon to dispel the temporary gloom that 
had gathered around the weakened intel- 
lect ; — and once more she began to whisper 
hope, and peace, and consolation — she, whose 
own heart was utterly broken ! It was well 



282 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

that Evelyn could not see that face — colour- 
less as marble — nor behold the fearful expres- 
sion of those eyes ! 

In a few days, the invalid was able to be 
removed to a cottage a few miles from Dr. 

A 's establishment: — she was told this 

was desirable as a preparation for the longer 
journey she was shortly about to undertake ; 
— but, in reality, it was necessary in order 
that Helen might have time to determine her 
future plans, and seek a permanent place of 
abode. Oriel, of course, even when rebuilt, 
could never in future be a home to either of 
them. 

Evelyn bore her removal without suffering, 
and even seemed to benefit by the change. 
And now, each day, fresh strength seemed to 
spring up within her ; though with it, alas ! 
came none of the buoyant spirit she had 
formerly known. She was restored to exist- 
ence; — but darkness had closed around her, and 
to her it still seemed a far better thing to die ! 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 283 

. ..It was night. Evelyn, fatigued with more 
than usual exertion, had long since sunk to 
rest ; and she now slept heavily, like one who 
had passed the day in toil. But Helen slept 
not. In her own tiny room, adjoining Evelyn's, 
she sat ; in an attitude of unconscious and 
melancholy meditation. What is it on which 
her eyes are fixed so earnestly ? . . .It is an 
infant's tiny sock, half consumed ...There it 
is before her ; and she has sat for hours gazing 
at that little object; — for it is all — all that 
remains to her of her child ! No lock of hair 
has she — ^no toy he has handled ; — nothing to 
recall him, but that soiled and half-burnt 
sock ! But he has worn that — it has taken 
the exact impression of his little foot — she 
fancies she sees it on him now — and inex- 
pressibly dear and precious is it to her heart ! 
It was found unconsumed by some strange 
accident, close to the spot where the infant lay ; 
— and charitable hands have conveyed it to her, 
for which she blesses them daily in her prayers 



284 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

How glad she is when the night comes, — 
for then is her period of rest ; — such rest as 
she can know. Then the struggle and the 
weary effort for a time are laid aside — and she 
can give herself up to her own sorrows — and, 
taking out her treasure, she can gaze upon 
it without fear of interruption. In the dreary 
day-time she must not yield to thoughts of 
her loved ones ; — she must turn away from 
their dear image; — but at night they are all 
her own ! . . .the lover and the child ! once 
more they come around her. Alas ! he never 
beheld his son ! Before the infant opened 
its eyes to the light, his had closed for ever !... 
" When he shall see him in the courts above, 
perhaps he shall not know him,'" Ah, yes ; — 
even now, perhaps, they are together ! happy 
evermore — looking with tender pity upon her 
they have left behind ! 

But she is less unhappy now ; — for her life 
cannot last long. The pent-up anguish of a 
few weeks has done the work of years — she 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 285 

knows it, and she looks with joy unutterable 
to the prospect of release. 

Yet a great work is still before her — a sub- 
lime and beautiful task — to raise the heart of 
the afflicted — to teach the impatient spirit 
submission — to watch over the friendless and 
forlorn — to cheer the blind! — For this object 
she must live whilst she can — for this — forget 
herself, and strive to lay her sorrows by. 

And those beloved ones ! — shall not they 
live in her heart's shrine ? Ah, yes ! the hus- 
band of her choice, the child of her love, 
shall be with her yet. In every fervent prayer, 
in every painful act of self-denial, in every 
bitter instant when her heart inwardly sinks, 
and she longs for death, they shall be with 
her still, encouraging her with smiles of hope, 
and ever pointing upward — to the end! Yes, 
they shall be with her still ! 

Long, long had she remained, lost in re- 
flections such as these, her head resting on 
her hands. The clock had just struck one ! 



286 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Suddenly, she fancied she heard a footstep in 
one of the rooms beneath. Surprised that any- 
one should be up at such an hour, she then re- 
membered that she had seen the three women 
who composed their small establishment go 
up to bed several hours before. She paused 
to listen. For some moments all was still, 
and she began to think she must have been 
mistaken. But no; there was again a foot- 
step on the lower stair ; she could not doubt 
it — a slow and stealthy footstep. Every now 
and then it paused for several moments, and 
then was heard again. Some one was un- 
doubtedly approaching, and with an evident 
wish to avoid being overheard. 

In spite of Helen's firmness, her heart mis- 
gave her. Visions of robbery, of violence and 
murder, came across her, which made her 
blood run cold. Evelyn, too — blind and help- 
less — how dreadful would any alarm, any 
sudden shock, be to her now ! 

She endeavoured to collect her thoughts. 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 287 

and to consider what was best to be done. 
Her own maid — a faithful and attached, but 
not a strong-minded woman — slept in the 
attic above ; and the only other persons in 
the house were the woman, to whom it be- 
longed, and her daughter, about whom Helen 
knew little or nothinsr. There was no man- 
servant ; the one who had returned with 
them from America had accompanied Mr. 
Eridge to Oriel. ^ 

All this time the footstep was advancing — 
stealthily, more stealthily than before, as it 
approached nearer. Helen softly stole to the 
door with the intention of fastening it ; but 
what w^as her horror to find there was no key 
— none to any of the doors, except that in 
Evelyn's room, which opened to the passage, 
and which she herself had locked the last 
thing before she left her. Suddenly, she re- 
membered that she had received some bank- 
notes from London a few days before. They 
had been cut in half, and sent in different 



^288 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

letters, at different times. She had no recol- 
lection of having left either of these letters 
where they could have heen seen by any one, 
but she might have done so ; and the know- 
ledge that she had thirty-five pounds in her 
possession might have induced the woman of 
the house, if not honest, to connive at the 
entrance of a thief. She was positive that 
she had seen this woman fasten the house- 
do(jr herself many hours before; and she 
knew that her own maid, whose nerves had 
been dreadfully shaken by the late melancholy 
catastrophe, was in the habit of going round 
the last thing, after all the others were gone 
to bed, to see that all was safe, and that there 
was no chance of fire. How any one, there- 
fore, could have obtained an entrance was, 
indeed, a mystery ; unless the woman of the 
house had admitted them before the doors 
were closed. The money we have alluded to 
was in a desk in Helen's room, the key of 
which was, by a not unusual contrivance, con- 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 289 

cealed in a ring she always wore — both the 
desk and ring had been given to her by her 
husband. 

As she glanced at that desk, it suddenly 
occurred to her that there was also in it a 
draft for eighty pounds, which she had that 
very morning drawn, intending to give it to 

Dr. A the next time he should call. 

Swift as thought, she now remembered that, 
whilst she had been writing that cheque, she 
had heard the noise of a door closing softly 
behind her, as if some one that had entered 
were retiring. She had called her maid by 
name, imagining it "to be her; but no one 
had answered, and the circumstance had 
vanished from her mind till now; when it 
suddenly recurred, and filled her with the 
most gloomy apprehensions. 

There she stood, pale as death — her eyes 
fixed upon the door, her ears strained to catch 
the smallest sound of that mysterious foot- 
step. Slowly— slowly it approached— nearer 

VOL. II. o 



290 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

and nearer. It was now upon the highest 
flight. 

However indifferent, from circumstances, any 
one may have become to life, there is always 
a certain natural clinging to it when danger 
is at hand, which shows how strong is our 
hold upon it, and how much we shrink from 
a disruption of those ties which unite the soul 
to its frail companion. Helen felt this keenly, 
although, but a few moments before, she had 
been contemplating death as the wished-for 
termination to all her sorrows — the haven of 
rest where she would be. 

And now the step was on the topmost 
stair ; in another instant, it had reached her 
door, and there, for a few moments, it paused 
again. She felt that that mysterious being 
was, like herself, intently listening ! Her 
heart beat quick, and a cold sweat broke out 
upon her face and forehead ! Still, in that 
moment of extreme fear, she remembered 
Evelyn, and restrained the cry that was rising 
to her lips. 



EVELYN H ARCOURT. 291 

Slowly, so slowly, as to be almost im- 
perceptible, except to senses strained, like 
Helen's, to the very utmost, she perceived the 
handle of the door turning gradually, noise- 
lessly round — then the door itself began to 
open. What she endured during those few 
moments who can tell?... 

At last, it was fairly open ; and a muffled 
figure slowly advanced into the room, pre- 
senting to the astonished eyes of Helen, not 
the countenance of some desperate and de- 
termined ruffian, come for purposes of mid- 
night plunder, but the mild and melancholy 
features of the Recluse of Wynnesland ! — 



" Yes, Mrs. Percy, I have indeed travelled 
far to seek you !" said Mrs. Howard, when 
Helen's first astonishment at such an appa- 
rition had subsided, and she had had time 
to recover somewhat from the alarm she had 
experienced. '* When I heard what had be- 
fallen you — how you had lost all — I felt an 

o 2 



292 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

irresistible desire to come to you — to comfort 
you as you once comforted me. I know that 
I can do nothing. Alas!. ..I know full well 
from experience how worse than vain all 
sympathy is, when the heart is broken. But 
yet — if I could work for you, labour for you, 
be your servant — " 

Helen smiled sadly ; and, pointing in the 
direction of Evelyn's room — 

" What you would be to me, I am to her," 
said she ; " there is my comfort — the only 
thino^ that makes life tolerable. To liohten 
another's burden, to soothe another's grief — 
one utterly dependant, too, and helpless — 
that is indeed worth living for !" 

" And will you deny it to me, then, mise- 
rable as I am ? Ah ! Helen, you little know 
what I have suffered since we parted." 

" I have often thought of you, indeed — 
often longed to know what had become of 
you; and whether.,.. whether your mind had 
become more peaceful, more resigned, since.,.'* 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 293 

" Peaceful ! Peace is not for me in this 
world." 

" Happiness may not be ; — perhaps there 
are few who find it here. But peace — that 
peace ' which passeth understanding,' — all 
who seek it in the right spirit, and from the 
true source, find it, I believe, at last." 

" Would / could think so ! Heaven knows 
I have prayed enough. But it is not of my- 
self, nor of my own sorrows, I would speak 
now. Formerly, when you were gay, and free 
from care, I strove as far as I could to hide 
my struggles from you ; — you know I did. 
Now that you are weighed down by sorrows 
of your own — and such sorrows— it is not with 
mine that I would trouble you. I am come 
far to ask of you a boon — I have travelled 
many miles to ask it — " 

" Dear Mrs. Howard, what can you ask that 
I would not willingly do, if in my power?" 

"Take me as your servant — your maid. 
Let me wait upon you, and live in your house." 

o3 



294 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

Helen looked at her for a moment, almost 
doubting her sanity. But though her face 
was very pale, and the dark circles round her 
eyes were darker than formerly, and the same 
expression of anguish was in her countenance 
that had first won for her Helen's interest and 
compassion — yet there was nothing that indi- 
cated lack of reason; nor had there ever been. 
"My dear friend, you cannot be serious!" 
she said at length. " You a servant?" 
" And why not ?" 

** You forget that I know more of you now 
— of your real position — than I did formerly 
— I learnt, through your relation, Mr. Chis- 

holm " 

She stopped, shocked at the sudden altera- 
tion in Mrs. Howard's countenance. It be- 
came literally convulsed. Her teeth were set, 
she clasped her hands together, and trembled 
violently for some moments in uncontrollable 
agony. 

" Bear with me," gasped she, at length, as 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 295 

Helen, much alarmed, endeavoured to soothe 
her; ''I shall be better soon — it will pass 
away : but oh, never allude to that man 
again !... .Did you not know that he sought 
me ? — great heavens, I have not recovered it 
yet ! — and that I quitted that quiet home, 

where I first knew you, because because 

he had discovered me — that I became once 
more a wanderer : did not I write you this ?" 

"You did, you did, dear madam! Com- 
pose yourself; — I will never again distress 
you thus — " 

Gradually, her features, which had become 
rigid and contracted, relaxed, her eyes closed, 
and she sunk back in her chair, pale, and 
almost fainting. 

Helen bathed her hands and face with eau 
de cologne, and opened the window to give 
her air. She presently revived. 

" I am not often thus," she said, faintly, 
" or I should make but a bad attendant for 
you. Helen, will you try me ? If you find I 



^296 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

fail in one duty you assign me, I will leave 
you willingly." 

Helen gently took her hand. 

" We will talk of this another time," said 
she. " Most gladly, thankfully, will I receive 
you as my guest ; but as a servant — never ! 
Remain with me — I am independent now," she 
added, with a bitter smile, " and I can ask it 
of you, which I could not formerly — . Re- 
main with me ; and, since you used to say I 
soothed you in your sorrow, let me try to do 
so still. We can perhaps mutually comfort 
one another ; and that one also," pointing to 
Evelyn's chamber, '' who needs comfort more 
than all, for she is blind !" 

She ceased ; for tears were coursing one 
another down those wan cheeks, w^hose fur- 
rows had grown deeper since last she beheld 
them — and she rejoiced to see those tears. 
Like refreshing showers after parching heat, 
they seemed to her to fall — and oh, how she 
envied them ! What would she not give to 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 297 

be able to weep thus ! — But, since the death 
of her child, she had never shed one tear. 

It was not till the cold gray light of early 
morning had begun to show itself, that Helen 
and her singular companion sought a short 
interval of rest. They conversed long upon 
many subjects; and Mrs. Howard at length 
yielded to the earnest entreaties of Helen, and 
consented to become her guest for the present, 
provided she were allowed as much solitude 
as she chose, especially whilst the dark fits 
were upon her. Helen believed that by cau- 
tioning her own maid — who had already heard 
much of her and of her mysterious disappear- 
ance from the Penrhyns — the circumstance of 
her arrival might be kept very tolerably secret, 
at least for the present ; and as for Evelyn, 
she must be accustomed by degrees first to 
the idea, and then to the voice and companion- 
ship of a stranger. 

It appeared that Mrs. Howard had been 
two whole days in the neighbourhood of this 



298 EVELYN HARCOURT. 

cottage ; but, although incessantly on the 
watch to catch Helen, she had never been able 
to get hold of her by herself. She had there- 
fore stepped unobserved into the house in the 
dusk of the evening, concealed herself behind 
the dining-room curtains, and actually there 
remained, till, from the lateness of the hour 
and perfect stillness of the house, she believed 
that she might safely venture from her hiding- 
place. But not knowing, of course, which 
room Helen occupied, and having an extreme 
fear of being detected by any one else, she 
had adopted those extraordinary precau- 
tions in coming up the stairs which had occa- 
sioned so much alarm to Helen — chance alone 
having directed her to the door of the right 
room. 

It was somewhat startling to the nerves of 
Mrs. Hart, when she entered her mistress's 
chamber the next morning, to perceive a 
strange bonnet and shawl on the arm-chair by 
the window ; but it was still more startlino^ 



EVELYN HARCOURT. 299 

to behold a strange body slowly uprise from 
the sofa,; where it had till then been reposing, 
and a strange face appear, whose eyes fixed 
themselves intently upon her. That such an 
apparition should present itself at such a time, 
when she had certainly left her mistress alone 
the previous night, was as unaccountable as it 
was overpowering; and Mrs. Hart was pro- 
ceeding with a most rueful and distracted 
aspect forthwith to scream most portentously, 
when she suddenly found herself arrested by 
her mistress herself, who, placing her finger 
on her lips, drew her silently into another 
room out of hearing of Evelyn, and then pro- 
ceeded to enlighten her concerning the arrival 
of the unexpected guest. 



END OF VOL. II. 



F. Shoberl, Jun., Printer to H.K.H. Prince Albert, Rifpert Street. 



II 



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